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Make Afghanistan Great Again? Trump touts ‘delusional gold rush’ in ‘graveyard of empires’

The people of Afghanistan are not going to profit from US mining rare-earth minerals there: it...

The Empire’s Hustle: Why Anti-Trumpism Doesn’t Include Anti-War

Libertarian U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) declared from the Senate floor last week in anticipation of the vote on the National Defense Authorization Act...

The Empire’s Hustle: Why Anti-Trumpism Doesn’t Include Anti-War

Photo by Xavi | CC BY 2.0 Libertarian U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) declared from the Senate floor last week in anticipation of the vote...

British diplomats work in a monument to Empire: Is it time the Foreign Office...

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office threw open its doors this weekend for #OpenHouseLondon, offering a...

Victors Partition the Ottoman Empire

Is the US Empire's Reign Nearing an End?

With a detailed account of how the US rose out of World War II to become the reigning empire, Alfred W. McCoy reveals how...
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Video: Is North Korea’s Kim Jong-un stumbling into a nuclear trap laid by the...

NORTH KOREA FALSE FLAG http://aanirfan.blogspot.com/2017/08/north-korea-false-flag.html CIA ASSET - KIM JONG-UN? (right) What is the purpose of the ... Via Youtube

Enforcing Empire Through a Global Surveillance State

(Photo: Ep_jhu) Historian Alfred W. McCoy's new book peels back layers of secrecy to tell how the United States used covert intervention, surveillance, torture, trade...

An Empire Upside Down

In the early months of the Trump administration, high-profile White House visits from foreign leaders from Europe, Asia, and the Middle East garnered headlines...

As US Empire Fails, Trump Enters a Quagmire

Photo by DVIDSHUB | CC BY 2.0 A quagmire is defined as a complex or unpleasant position that is difficult to escape. President Trump’s recently announced...

As US Empire Fails, Trump Enters A Quagmire

A quagmire is defined as a complex or unpleasant position that is difficult to escape. President Trump’s recently announced war plans in Afghanistan maintain that quagmire....

Cost Of US Empire – $1 TRILLION A Year

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Video: Keiser Report: Empire of Debt (E1114)

Max & Stacy discuss the narcissism of central banks holding $15 trillion in their own assets. They also discuss Morgan Stanley saying that some...

Ron Paul on Trump’s ‘New’ Afghan Strategy: Protect The Empire!

President Trump said his gut tells him to get out of Afghanistan, but after giving it some more thought – with the help of...

Can Anyone Stop Trump’s FCC From Approving a Conservative Local News Empire?

President Trump’s Federal Communications Commission, under chairman Ajit Pai, has been clearing the way for a merger between Sinclair Broadcasting and Tribune Media, two...

Canada’s NDP backs American Empire

Does the NDP consistently support a foreign policy that benefits ordinary people around the world? Or does the social democratic party often simply fall...

Global Empire: The Pyongyang File with Tariq Ali

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Only Morons Believe the US Empire

Usually foreign analysts of the American political scene are either sycophantic or just annoying, but no one would dare say that about Aussie observer Caitlin...

The American Empire

“When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight,” Samuel Johnson observed, “it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” And the prospect of a...

Empire’s Day of Reckoning

Dawn. Another day amidst the crumbling walls of Empire. Mired in the middle of its Misinformation Machine. Sharing fouled air with mindless, misguided, huddled...
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Video: #1917LIVE: Amazing color photos of Russian Empire’s final years

Millions have seen his depictions of the pre-revolutionary Russian Empire, yet precious few remember the name of the chemist and photographer Sergey ... Via Youtube

There Is Only One Empire

Any nation-state that meets these four requirements is fully exposed to a global loss of faith in its economy, debt, balance of payments and...

The Empire Is Hungry for Corpses

“Iran must be free. The dictatorship must be destroyed. Containment is appeasement and appeasement is surrender.” Thus does our Churchill, Newt Gingrich, dismiss, in dealing...

Empire of Destruction: Precision Warfare? Don’t Make Me Laugh

You remember. It was supposed to be twenty-first-century war, American-style: precise beyond imagining; smart bombs; drones capable of taking out a carefully identified and...

Global Empire – The World We Live In

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The US Empire, the CIA, and the NGOs

An interview with F. William Engdahl The Ancient Greeks knew: “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and...

The Biotech Trade Empire Strikes Back—at USDA!

The American Farm Bureau organized letter on proposed new rules regulating genetically engineered (GE) crops is short, just two pages, with three pages of agribusiness signatories,...

Empire Files: Abby Martin in Venezuela — Supermarkets to Black Markets

Abby Martin talks to Venezuelans on the streets of Caracas and investigates the main claim that there's no free press, and that there is...

Moral Injury of War: The Invisible Wound of Empire

With the failure of the Democratic establishment, the crisis of liberal democracy is now seized by a new rise of power. The US empire...

Invisible Empire Beneath the Radar, Above Suspicion

Photo by Jörn Schubert | CC BY 2.0 When the United States went to war with Spain in 1898, it did so in a media...

From Union to Empire

From Union to Empire: Essays in the Jeffersonian Tradition~ is an anthology of essays and writings by historian Clyde Wilson. As Joseph Stromberg writes...

Projecting Crimes of US Empire onto Russia

by Roger D. Harris / June 14th, 2017 Accused of being a “Useful Idiot or Propagandist for Russia,” labor and human rights lawyer Dan Kovalik...

Empire Files: Buying a Slave — the Hidden World of US-Philippines Trafficking

Human trafficking is a hidden industry that brings in $150 billion in illegal profits every year. In the United States, tens of thousands are...

In Search of an Empire without an Emperor: Dynamics Behind the Comey Firing

In a very short amount of time, it’s become something of cliche to talk of Trump’s firing of Comey as the equivalent of Nixon’s...

Killer Drones in the Empire State

At dusk I stood on a residential street with trim lawns and watched planes approach a runaway along the other side of a chain-link...

War and Empire: the American Way of Life

Photo courtesy of  CC BY 2.0   A few months ago I received a message from a professor at the Khomeini Institute for Education and  Research in...

Killer Drones in the Empire State: Norman Solomon

At dusk I stood on a residential street with trim lawns and watched planes approach a runaway along the other side of a chain-link...

The Empire Expands: Not the US One, but Trump's

President Donald Trump prepares to speak at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, February 21, 2017. At the right...

The Empire Expands: Not the American One, But Trump’s

President Trump, his children and their spouses, aren’t just using the Oval Office to augment their political legacy or secure future riches. Okay, they...

The Crazed Empire

Not everyone likes to hear about the threat of nuclear war. Some find refuge in denial and say that nuclear war is impossible because...

Empire Files: Greg Palast on the Hidden Purging of Millions of Voters

Who are the billionaire bandits responsible for turning democracy in the United States into a joke? In this new documentary, dogged sleuth Greg Palast...
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Video: Wilkerson: Trump’s New National Security Advisor Believes in Empire, More Realpolitik than Flynn

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson says General H.R. McMaster might be more restrained about military action, but will support massive budget increase to military and ... Via...

Empire Abroad, Empire At Home

“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Americans are taught to revel in...

Empire Files: Silencing Palestine With Prison and Repression

Israel's occupation of the West Bank is an internationally-recognized human rights crime -- but those being impacted are harshly punished for not only acts...

Trump, Empire and Our Long Retreat to Tyranny

Photo by Daniel Huizinga | CC BY 2.0 There has been a lot of worry about the Constitution and basic democratic rights since Trump’s election....

The Hollowed-Out Empire

John Batchelor interviewed Michael Vlahos, Naval War College.  The topic was “Imagining the Fall of the American Empire.”  Vlahos doesn’t just imagine it –...

The Road to War in 1812: Imperialism, Empire, and the Proletariat

With Donald Trump, President of the United States, visiting Hermitage, the home of Andrew Jackson before the 250th Anniversary of his birth, it is...

The Choice: Traitor to Empire, or Traitor to Mankind

I envy you. You North Americans are very lucky. You are fighting the most important fight of all. You live in the belly of...

Fake News: the Unravelling of US Empire From Within

Photo by Alan Cleaver | CC BY 2.0   Setting the Stage of the Press-President War US ruling ideology and Washington power have become unstuck as never...

Fall of the American Galactic Empire

“The fall of Empire, gentlemen, is a massive thing, however, and not easily fought. It is dictated by a rising bureaucracy, a receding initiative,...
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Video: Empire State Building evacuated after fire breaks out in basement

One of New York City's most iconic landmarks, the Empire State Building, was evacuated on Friday after fire broke out in the basement. No...

Empire state of mind: Tories sell imperialist themed feather cushion as official merchandise

Published time: 9 Mar, 2017 17:08 The Conservative Party found itself in a spot of trouble...

Same old empire: British govt’s post-Brexit plans will ‘fleece Africa’

Published time: 9 Mar, 2017 12:09 The imperialist ambitions of Prime Minister Theresa May’s Cabinet were...

Britain suffers ‘historical amnesia’ over former empire, Indian MP Shashi Tharoor tells RT (VIDEO)

Published time: 8 Mar, 2017 17:11 Britain suffers from “historical amnesia” over the atrocities and plunder...

Empire 2.0: Britain plans return to free trade with former Commonwealth colonies

Officials are planning a return to privileged trade with former British colonies in an attempt to replace the agreements which will be lost with...

Amerexit: A Plan For State Sovereignty and an End of Empire

Pollyanna was an underrated and underappreciated, although fictional, genius.  All too often I see my empty glass as unfillable, and envision a brutal death from thirst...

White House Power Player Jared Kushner Is Keeping Parts of His Real Estate Empire

Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and the heir to a family real estate empire, has emerged as perhaps Donald Trump's closest adviser. A near-constant...

The Empire’s Nightmare

Methinks the insane hysteria over Russia needs to stop. It probably will not. For reasons of domestic and imperial politics, the American public is again...
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Video: #1917LIVE: The sun sets on the Russian Empire

Romanov rule is collapsing. Martial law imposed in #Petrograd. Authorities fear violence can erupt anytime. Russia is like a boiling cauldron, that can explode...

The US Empire Will Destroy Itself

BALTIMORE – Victoribus spolia… So far, the most satisfying thing about the Trump win has been the howls and whines coming from the establishment. Each appointment...

The US Military, Like Ancient Rome's, Is Trying to Secure a Dying Empire

Recruiters from the Harrisburg Recruiting Company assisted with the Youth and Education Services (Y.E.S.) October 8, 2010, at the Maple Grove Raceway in Reading,...

Trump As The Pathology of Empire and Healing the Wound of America

The first month of Trump in office unleashed chaos and turmoil with a series of executive orders threatening women’s reproductive rights, immigrants and sacred...

Despite Vows, Documents Show Trump Retains Close Ties to Business Empire

Nation, do not despair. Despite the carnage around us, online wiseacres - and mass resistance, lawsuits,...
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Video: The American Empire with Allan Nairn (On Contact with Chris Hedges)

On this week's episode of On Contact, host Chris Hedges examines the future of the American empire under the Trump Administration with investigative ... Via...

Ron Paul and Stephen Kinzer on the Birth of The American Empire

How did the US empire begin? In his important new book, The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the...

The Empire Has No Clothes

Photo by Nicolas Raymond | CC BY 2.0 Harsh realities have long mocked United States “elites’” ritual description of their nation state as a benevolent...
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Video: ‘Keep American empire alive’: NATO builds up forces along Russian border

The operation is called 'Atlantic Resolve' and will see the deployment of thousands of American soldiers and tanks. However, ships carrying the first batch...
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Video: Turkey, Qatar turn to Russia as untrusted US/Israeli Middle East empire wanes

What Really Happened to Paul on the Road to Damascus? Acts 9: 1-19. https://www.lds.org/bible-videos/videos/the-road-to-damascus Russia successfully sells ... Via Youtube
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Video: Carrington & Kissinger – Bilderberg & NATO’s dying Atlanticist empire showcased on the...

Don't ask Peter Carrington about what happened on the bridge at Nijmegen on the evening of Wednesday 20th September 1944 - he doesn't like...

Hanukkah, Syria and the Perils of Empire

A front line in Aleppo, Syria, on December 12, 2012. (Photo: Tyler Hicks / The New York Times) It is a tragic irony that the...

The Empire Has No Clothes: Trump’s Class War Cabinet, the F-Word, and the Coming...

Anyone who thought Donald Trump was going to live up to his populist-sounding rhetoric and stand up for the “forgotten working people of America”...

Rolling Back the Empire: Washington’s Proxy-Army Faces Decisive Defeat in Aleppo

Photo by yeowatzup | CC BY 2.0 Syrian Army helicopters dropped leaflets on parts of eastern Aleppo on Sunday warning anti-government fighters to surrender while they still...

The Cost of Empire

With all these generals being called out of retirement to serve as Donald Trump’s “civilian” advisers, whether it’s General James “Mad Dog” Mattis as...

The Empire’s SciFi Weapons

By Mac Slavo SHTFplan.com December 1, 2016 It may sound like the kind of science fiction contraptions that would show up in a James Bond film...

If We Care About the Constitution, Trump Has to Sell His Empire

Andrew Ross Sorkin (New York Times, 11/28/16): “Some of your critics will deride the corporate monitor as mere window dressing.” And those critics would...

Capitalist Hospitals in the Empire

Nurse Ratched Revisited I awoke in the dark, alone, in pain and frightened. I pushed the call button for the nurse and waited for him...

The Empire’s War on ‘Terror’

The “war on terror” has simultaneously been a war on truth. For fifteen years—from 9/11 to Saddam Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction” and “al...

What is to Be Done When Empire is Trumped?

The shock and awe of the recent US presidential election has taken the world by storm and has many on their heels. It has...

The U.S. Elections: End of Empire? A View from Haiti

Artwork from book cover | America at War with Itself Today on campus was a discussion aimed at addressing the issue of safety for our...

Paradoxical Truths of an Isolationist Empire

In the photograph, I’m wearing a gas mask and 3D glasses that I knew, if it came down to it, would not protect my...

Through the Gates of Hell: How Empire Ushered in a Trump Presidency

The one thing you could say about empires is that, at or near their height, they have always represented a principle of...

About the Empire and the Deep State, Mr. Trump

Comments open on YouTube The post About the Empire and the Deep State, Mr. Trump appeared first on LewRockwell. Read more

No EU Empire Works

The Lost History of 1914: How the Great War Was Not Inevitable, by Jack Beatty. At a Bosnian railway station in 1910 a would-be assassin...

Turkey’s New Maps Are Reclaiming The Ottoman Empire

In the past few weeks, a conflict between Ankara and Baghdad over Turkey’s role in the liberation of Mosul has precipitated...

The Empire Files: Meet the Socialist Woman Running for President

With just weeks until the US presidential election -- and with both mainstream candidates embroiled in unprecedented scandal -- Abby Martin interviews...

The Empire Files: Inside Palestine's Refugee Camps

In her first on-the-ground report from Palestine, Abby Martin gives a first-hand look into two of the most attacked refugee camps in...

President Obama: Before the Empire Falls, Free Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal

Illustration by Priti Gualati Cox.   Man, I dream of just being able to paint. Go to sleep when I want, get up when I want,...

Drop ‘Empire’ from British honors, Liverpool FC’s 1st black player says

The first black footballer to play for Liverpool says the word ‘Empire’ should be removed...

Propaganda Techniques of Empire

Washington’s quest for perpetual world power is underwritten by systematic and perpetual propaganda wars. Every major and minor war has been preceded, accompanied and...

The Empire Files: How Palestine Became Colonized

by The Real News Network (TRNN) / October 1st, 2016 Previewing Abby Martin’s on-the-ground investigation in Palestine, The Empire Files looks at the long history...
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Video: A Debate on Empire: Is Donald Trump One Terrorist Attack Away from the...

http://democracynow.org - Ralph Nader, former presidential candidate, discusses what expanding the presidential debate to include third-party candidates ... Via Youtube

The Empire Paradox: More Power is More Weakness

In response to my recent article on US imperial wars some people objected to my characterisation of the US empire. I wrote: “In global...

Cutting the Cords of Empire: The Spectacle of US Elections

The more powerful the class, the more it claims not to exist. — Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle It’s almost time for our quadrennial...

9/11 and the Treason of Empire

The fifteenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks has brought us mournful memorials, declarations that we will “never forget,” and outraged realizations that...

“Socialists” Supporting NATO and U.S. Empire

At the recent annual convention of Veterans for Peace, VFP Vice President Jerry Condon said: “The US peace movement has been demobilized by disinformation...

The Empire Wants Ms. Clinton, The Conqueror!

What a fine race it has become! Both Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump are competing in it as a who is the ‘tougher guy/gal’...

The Secret of the Byzantine Empire

How did Byzantium endure for 1,000 years after the fall of Rome? One of my reading projects over the past year is to learn more...

US Wars are for Empire, Not for Profit

Yemen is being destroyed. A US-backed “Saudi Coalition” has been bombing and shelling Yemen for 16 months. The UN puts the civilian death toll...

The Yankee Empire

Every society has a segment of its population that obsesses over totalitarian control of others.  They are called “politicians” or “political activists.”  (There are...

The Broken Chessboard: Brzezinski Gives up on Empire

Photograph courtesy of Munich Security Conference, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license. The main architect of Washington’s plan to rule the world has abandoned the...

Tomas Young’s War Is the Cost of Empire

When the eulogy for the US Empire is finally written, it will not serve to glorify the exploits of the US government...

Team Empire? Britain’s former imperial possessions won the Olympics, claims Tory MP

A Tory MP is under fire after tweeting a medal breakdown of the Rio Olympics...

The Scapegoats of Empire

The Green Party might have had a realistic chance for the presidency had Bernie Sanders not amputated his “political revolution” and instead joined presidential...

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa on Empire and the Environment

Also see: Bringing Corporations to Justice With Ecuador's UN Representative After touring Chevron's oil pollution in the Ecuadorean Amazon, Abby Martin sits down for...

Fissures in the Empire

If you have been wondering what all the terror events in France and Germany are about, here is the answer. Washington has raised the cost...

The Ennui of Hyperempire

Possibly I have spent too many years ‘abroad’, outside of North America and Europe. Perhaps I don’t feel ‘white’, or ‘Western’ anymore. Or who...

We Are the Empire: Of US Military Interventions, Alien Disaster Movies and "Star Wars"

Perhaps you've heard the expression: "We have met the enemy and he is us." Cartoonist Walt Kelly's famed possum, Pogo, first uttered...

Washington’s Not-So-Invisible Hand: It’s Not Economics, It’s Empire

Scottish philosopher Adam Smith famously noted the “invisible hand” of the market that shaped the character of economies near and far. The rightwing neoliberal...

Against Empire

What national boundaries can be considered as just? In the first place, it must be recognized that there are no just national boundaries per se; that...

Hillary Clinton and American Empire

Despite the lack of evidence linking Orlando mass murderer Omar Mateen to Daesh (ISIS) in any operational (direct) sense, the first inclination of U.S....
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Video: Dave Zirin on the Whitewashing of Muhammad Ali: He Wasn’t Against Just War,...

http://democracynow.org - Dave Zirin, sports editor for The Nation magazine, joins us from Muhammad Ali's hometown, Louisville, Kentucky, where he will attend ... Via Youtube

"I Refuse to Serve as an Empire Chaplain": US Army Minister Resigns Over Drone...

An unlikely voice has emerged challenging the drone warfare program: former US Army Reserve Chaplain Captain Chris Antal, who spent time based...
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Video: “I Refuse to Serve as an Empire Chaplain”: U.S. Army Minister Resigns over...

http://democracynow.org - An unlikely voice has emerged challenging the drone warfare program: former U.S. Army Reserve Chaplain Captain Chris Antal, who ... Via Youtube

The Empire’s Reach Is Galactic

If China begins to reclaim and militarize Scarborough Shoal, says Philippines President Benigno S. Aquino III, America must fight. Should we back down, says Aquino,...

Empire of Lies: How the US Continues to Deceive the World About Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, a tourist destination important to Puerto Rico's economy, February 3, 2014. (Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo / The New York...

Meet the Ayn Rand Enthusiast Whose Private College Empire Reaps a Fortune From the...

Ayn Rand enthusiast Carl Barney says he ethically objects to government-backed loans because they interfere with unbridled free market capitalism. But that...

Empire’s Seamless, Pernicious Perfection

by John R. Hall / April 22nd, 2016 Early in 2003, as the Coalition of the Morally Bereft hyped and prepared its invasion, destruction, and pillage of Iraq,...

The Empire Strikes Back: Donny and Hill's Big Night

Hillary Clinton is joined on stage by family at her victory rally after winning New York's Democratic primary, April 19, 2016. (Photo:...

Killing the US Republic — and Empire

Through its dysfunctional politics and over-reliance on military force, the United States is destroying both its Republic and its imperial...
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Video: The Empire Files: Abby Martin with Dr. Jill Stein – A Sick Society

Abby Martin sits down with Dr. Stein to look at how her career in medicine helped her diagnose America's "multi-organ failure," and why her...

New British Empire? UK to re-establish military bases east of Suez

Flush military chiefs have been handed an £800-million budget boost as they consider new bases...

Remembering the Irish Easter Uprising of 1916 against the British Empire?

It has been one hundred years since the heroic Easter uprising of the IRB (Irish Republican Brotherhood) and the ICA (Irish Citizen Army) against...

From New Labour to nouveau riche? Tony & Cherie Blair’s property empire worth £27m

Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and his family own a property empire worth an...

Disintegration of US Empire Brings Hope for Peaceful Freedom Revolution

Adam Dick Empires “disintegrate from within,” and the United States will be no exception, says Ron Paul in a newly released video of his speech...
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Video: The Empire Files: The Black Radical Tradition

Featuring interviews with Cornel West and others, and speeches from legends like Mumia Abu-Jamal and Angela Davis, Abby Martin provides a snapshot from ... Via...

Want Endless War? Love the U.S. Empire? Well, Hillary Clinton’s Your Choice

Hillary Clinton likes to extol her foreign policy credentials, particularly her experience as secretary of state. She attaches herself to Barack Obama’s coattails, pledging...
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Video: The Empire Files: The Empire’s Border Part I – A Policy of Death

Along the southern border of the United States is a graveyard, where hundreds upon hundreds of human remains are waiting to be found in...
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Video: The Empire Files: Examining the Syria War Chessboard

The war in Syria is an unparalleled crisis. Having gone far beyond an internal political struggle, the war is marked by a complex array...

The U.S. Has an Empire of Bases in the Middle East – and It’s...

U.S. Amy (Photo: WikiCommons) Amid the distractions of the holiday season, the New York Times revealed that the Obama administration is considering a Pentagon proposal to create a...
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Video: How the Kochs Tried (and Failed) to Discredit Reporter Jane Mayer After She...

http://democracynow.org - In 2010, Jane Mayer published an extensive profile of the billionaire Koch brothers in The New Yorker, exploring their quiet effort to...

The American Empire: Murder Inc.

Terror, intimidation and violence are the glue that holds empire together. Aerial bombardment, drone and missile attacks, artillery and mortar strikes, targeted assassinations, massacres,...

Agent of the Empire

Dr. Jack Wheeler does. In 2002, The Daily Reckoning posted Wheeler’s article, “The Curse of Lawrence of Arabia.” This story was forgotten in 2002....

Saudi Royal Family Announces Its New Global Sunni Military Empire

Eric Zuesse (NOTE: Some news-media have made clear to me flat-out that they won’t publish anything that criticizes the Saudi royal family, especially not as...
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Video: ISIS Oil Empire: ‘It’s not smugglers with donkeys, it’s huge business with Turkey...

Amid a discord in relations over a serious violation of Iraq's sovereignty by Turkey's deployment of ground troops, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi accused...

America’s Empire of African Bases Spreads

In the shadows of what was once called the “dark continent,” a scramble has come and gone. If you heard nothing about it, that...

Myths of Empire

The release of The Man in the High Castle, a streaming film series produced by Amazon and based very loosely on Philip K. Dick’s...

America’s Empire of African Bases

In the shadows of what was once called the “dark continent," a scramble has come and gone. If you heard nothing about it, that...

Bernie, War & the Empire’s Pie

Chris Ernesto (RINF) - As candidates prepare for Saturday's Democratic presidential debate in Iowa, it will be interesting to see how Bernie Sanders continues the...

Exposed by Wikileaks: The US Empire According to Itself

Robert J. Burrowes For many people, it is easier, safer and more comfortable to live in a world of delusion, particularly when this delusion requires...

US a fading empire in need of bogeymen: Analyst

America is a fading imperial power that is using Islam and Russia as “bogeymen” to prop up the country’s war machine and military—industrial complex,...
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Video: Noam Chomsky & Abby Martin: Electing The President Of An Empire

At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., Abby Martin interviews world-renowned philosopher and linguist Professor Noam Chomsky. Via Youtube
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Video: Keiser Report: Empire of debt (E826)

In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert discuss the past which is the future for the empire of debt...
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Video: The End Of The U.S Empire Is Here

In this video Luke Rudkowski breaks down key geo political world moves that will eliminate the U.S from being the global world power that...

Empire or Humanity?

[Note from TomDispatch editor Tom Engelhardt: Here’s how I described Howard Zinn in 2005 when I met him for a TomDispatch interview: “He's tall and...
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Video: 9/11 and the Belligerent Empire

In September 11th's episode of The Empire Files on TeleSUR, Abby Martin examines the two major wars launched under the "Global War on Terror"--their...

Video: 9/11 and the Belligerent Empire

In September 11th's episode of The Empire Files on TeleSUR, Abby Martin examines the two major wars launched under the "Global War on Terror"--their...

Video: “9/11’s Victims // Empire_File002”

In September 11th's episode of The Empire Files on TeleSUR, Abby Martin examines the two major wars launched under the "Global War on Terror"--their...
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Video: Assange on ‘US Empire’, Assad govt overthrow plans & new book ‘The WikiLeaks...

Afshin Rattansi goes underground with the world's most wanted publisher - the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange. He has just co-authored a book -...

Empire Destroys Life-Enabling Societies

Mark Taliano Recently, pre-eminent Canadian constitutional lawyer Rocco Galati demonstrated that Bill C-51 -- which is now law --- transforms Canada into a fascist state,...
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Video: Empire Files with Abby Martin Launches First Show

Abby Martin debuts teleSUR's The Empire Files exploring the U.S. Empire and its rise to world hegemony. teleSUR's The Empire Files airs every Friday...

Malcolm X Understood Empire

It is interesting that Americans do not invoke Malcolm X the way they invoke other civil rights leaders. Where ideas about American militarism go,...

Britain had an Empire?

An online video of Indian MP Shashi Tharoor arguing that Britain should pay India reparations for its colonial legacy has gone viral. It prompted...
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Video: Keiser Report: Collapsing Empires (Summer Solutions E793)

In this summer solutions episode of the Keiser Report, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert are joined by Charles Hugh Smith of OfTwoMinds.com about the...

Likely the Same Overextended American Empire From the Next President

Although the 2016 election is a year-and-a-half away, the verdict is already in on the continuation of post-World War II interventionism as the policy of choice....

Obama says Putin wants to recreate Soviet empire

US President Barack Obama has lashed out at his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, saying he is destroying the country’s economy in order to recreate...

The Empire Was Temporarily Defeated

By Paul Craig Roberts (RINF) - Global Research has made available an English translation of Andrew Korybko’s interview with the Macedonian NetPress. Washington’s color revolution...

Revolution and American Empire

The American preference for ideological, or ideologically based, explanations of world events frames them as both self-generated and inexplicable– self-generated because causal relations recover...

U.S. Soldiers Died for Empire and Hegemony

On Memorial Day, Americans honor the soldiers who have died in the defense of our country. There is one big problem though: Those soldiers...

US national security empire functions on secrecy: Analyst

A political commentator believes the United States government operates under a veil of “secrecy” and “manipulation” on the pretext of national security concerns. “The question is...

New Military Spending Bill Expands Empire But Forbids Debate on War

On Friday the House passed a massive National Defense Authorization for 2016 that will guarantee US involvement in more wars and overseas interventions for years to...

In Yemen the “Axis of kindness” shows the true face of the Empire and...

The headlines out of Yemen really say it all: U.S. pulling last of its Special Operations forces out of Yemen (and destroy their equipment in...

The Empire Strikes Back: Poison Is “Natural”

Professor James F. Tracy RINF Alternative News The processed food industry is seeking to turn back the global movement toward organic and non-GMO food by promoting...

Empire and Colonialism: Rich Men in London Still Deciding Africa’s Future

Some £600 million in UK aid money courtesy of the taxpayer is helping big business increase its profits in Africa via the New Alliance...

Empire And Colonialism: Rich Men In London Still Deciding Africa’s Future

RINF, 4th Media, Countercurrents, Global Research, Counterpunch, Information Clearing House, Regeneracion (Mexico), The News International (Pakistan newspaper 27/3/2015)

(all links are in italics)

Some £600 million in UK aid money courtesy of the taxpayer is helping big business increase its profits in Africa via the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. In return for receiving aid money and corporate investment, African countries have to change their laws, making it easier for corporations to acquire farmland, control seed supplies and export produce.

Last year, Director of the Global Justice Now Nick Dearden said:

“It’s scandalous that UK aid money is being used to carve up Africa in the interests of big business. This is the exact opposite of what is needed, which is support to small-scale farmers and fairer distribution of land and resources to give African countries more control over their food systems. Africa can produce enough food to feed its people. The problem is that our food system is geared to the luxury tastes of the richest, not the needs of ordinary people. Here the British government is using aid money to make the problem even worse.”

Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Mozambique, Nigeria, Benin, Malawi and Senegal are all involved in the New Alliance.

In a January 2015 piece in The Guardian, Dearden continued by saying that development was once regarded as a process of breaking with colonial exploitation and transferring power over resources from the ‘first’ to the ‘third world’, involving a revolutionary struggle over the world's resources. However, the current paradigm is based on the assumption that developing countries need to adopt neo-liberal policies and that public money in the guise of aid should facilitate this. The notion of ‘development’ has become hijacked by rich corporations and the concept of poverty depoliticised and separated from structurally embedded power relations. 

To see this in action, we need look no further to a conference held on Monday 23 March in London, organised by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This secretive, invitation-only meeting with aid donors and big seed companies discussed a strategy to make it easier for these companies to sell patented seeds in Africa and thus increase corporate control of seeds.

Farmers have for generations been saving and exchanging seeds among themselves. This has allowed them a certain degree of independence and has enabled them to innovate, maintain biodiversity, adapt seeds to climatic conditions and fend off plant disease. Big seed companies with help from the Gates Foundation, the US government and other aid donors are now discussing ways to increase their market penetration of commercial seeds by displacing farmers own seed systems.

Corporate sold hybrid seeds often produce higher yields when first planted, but the second generation seeds produce low yields and unpredictable crop traits, making them unsuitable for saving and storing. As Heidi Chow from Global Justice Now rightly says, instead of saving seeds from their own crops, farmers who use hybrid seeds become completely dependent on the seed, fertiliser and pesticide companies, which can (and has) in turn result in an agrarian crisis centred on debt, environmental damage and health problems.

The London conference aimed to share findings of a report by Monitor Deloitte on developing the commercial seed sector in sub-Saharan Africa. The report recommends that in countries where farmers are using their own seed saving networks NGOs and aid donors should encourage governments to introduce intellectual property rights for seed breeders and help to persuade farmers to buy commercial, patented seeds rather than relying on their own traditional varieties. The report also suggests that governments should remove regulations so that the seed sector is opened up to the global market.

The guest list comprised corporations, development agencies and aid donors, including Syngenta, the World Bank and the Gates Foundation. It speaks volumes that not one farmer organisation was invited. Farmers have been imbued with the spirit of entrepreneurship for thousands of years. They have been "scientists, innovators, natural resource stewards, seed savers and hybridisation experts" who have increasingly been reduced to becoming recipients of technical fixes and consumers of poisonous products of a growing agricultural inputs industry. So who better than to discuss issues concerning agriculture?

But the whole point of such a conference is that the West regards African agriculture as a ‘business opportunity’, albeit wrapped up in warm-sounding notions of 'feeding Africa' or 'lifting millions out of poverty'. The West’s legacy in Africa (and elsewhere) has been to plunge millions into poverty. Enforcing structural reforms to benefit big agribusiness and its unsustainable toxic GMO/petrochemical inputs represents a continuation of the neo-colonialist plundering of Africa. The US has for many decades been using agriculture as a key part of foreign policy to secure global hegemony.

Phil Bereano, food sovereignty campaigner with AGRA Watch and an Emeritus Professor at the University of Washington says:

“This is an extension of what the Gates Foundation has been doing for several years – working with the US government and agribusiness giants like Monsanto to corporatize Africa’s genetic riches for the benefit of outsiders. Don’t Bill and Melinda realize that such colonialism is no longer in fashion? It’s time to support African farmers’ self-determination.” 

Bereano also shows how Western corporations only intend to cherry-pick the most profitable aspects of the food production chain, while leaving the public sector in Africa to pick up the tab for the non-profitable aspects that allow profitability further along the chain.

Giant agritech corporations with their patented seeds and associated chemical inputs are ensuring a shift away from diversified agriculture that guarantees balanced local food production, the protection of people’s livelihoods and agricultural sustainability. African agriculture is being placed in the hands of big agritech for private profit under the pretext of helping the poor. The Gates Foundation has substantial shares in Monsanto. With Monsanto’s active backing from the US State Department and the Gates Foundation’s links with USAID, African farmers face a formidable force.

Report after report suggests that support for conventional agriculture, agroecology and local economies is required, especially in the Global South. Instead, Western governments are supporting powerful corporations with taxpayers money whose thrust via the WTO, World Bank and IMF has been to encourage strings-attached loans, monocrop cultivation for export using corporate seeds, the restructuring of economies, the opening of economies to the vagaries of land and commodity speculation and a system of globalised trade rigged in favour of the West.

In this vision for Africa, those farmers who are regarded as having any role to play in all of this are viewed only as passive consumers of corporate seeds and agendas. The future of Africa is once again being decided by rich men in London


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Presidential Rule by Deception: Obama, the Master Con-Man

Petras pulled no punches saying "(i)n an electoral system, run by and for a corporate oligarchy, deception and demagoguery are essential elements - entertaining the people while working for the wealthy."

Every US president does it. All congressional leaders. It's "de rigueur" to pretend to be "everyman." It persists while committing "war crimes worthy of prosecution."

It's play-acting. It's duplicity. Obama is the "master of deceit." He lacks an honest bone in his body.

He condemns torture while practicing it. He denounces Wall Street excess while supporting it. He wages one war after another while promising peace.

He backs Palestinian rights while trashing them. He supports the worst of Zionist militancy. He ignores institutionalized Israeli racism.

His word isn't his bond. He broke every major promise made. He's "hands down" the "greatest con-man president in American history," Petras explains.

His predecessors pale by comparison. "(T)he enormous gap between style and substance, promise and performance, peace and war, capital and labor, has never been greater," he added.

He continually promises one thing and does another. He's a scoundrel in the worst sense of the term.

He betrayed loyal constituents who supported him. He did so without a second thought. He's more racist than most white Americans.

He reflects the worst of demagogic duplicity. He defends the indefensible. He's a weapon of mass destruction. It bears repeating. He made America unfit to live in.

The Two Faces of a Police State: Sheltering Tax Evaders, Financial Swindlers and Money Launderers While Policing the Citizens

Petras cuts to the chase saying "(n)ever in the history of the United States have we witnessed crimes committed on the scale and scope of the present day by both private and state elites."

Never has so much harm been done to so many to benefit an elite few.

Never was extreme wealth been accumulated more easily at the expense of countless millions harmed.

Never have so-called civilized societies so egregiously trashed longstanding cherished values.

Never was grand theft more institutionalized. Never were amounts involved as great as now.

Never did pillage more greatly become the national pastime. Never did so-called democratic governance more swindle its own people.

Never before did so many mega-crooks go unpunished. Never was high-crime more common practice.

Never was government in bed with business for stakes this great. Never were more people harmed in the process.

Guiding US doctrine endorses "too rich for jail, too big to fail," said Petras. Ordinary people alone suffer.

Steal a billion, two or three and stay free. Steal a loaf of bread for hungry children and face prison time. Doing it three times perhaps means for life.

Law and order don't exist. Judicial unfairness is official policy. Ordinary people haven't a chance. Monied interests control things.

The Power of Israel in the United States

Israel Buys the US Congress: Sabotaging the US-Iran Peace Negotiations.

War or peace hangs in the balance. Thirty-five years of anti-Iranian hostility persists. Zionist power wants the Islamic Republic destroyed.

It wants all Israeli regional powers removed. It wants unchallenged military dominance.

It wants Israel given the right to steal Palestinian land freely. It wants it permitted to wage aggressive wars with impunity.

Attacking Iran risks regional or global war. Since WW II, "Israel has bombed, invaded and occupied more countries in the Middle East and Africa than any previous colonial power, except the US," says Petras.

Its victims include "Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Sudan and Yemen." Its terror attacks and targeted assassinations include numerous other countries.

Israel operates lawlessly with impunity. America partners in its crimes. It provides billion of dollars in annual support.

Red lines, timelines, deadlines, sanctions, sabotage, subversion, cyber attacks, assassinations, saber rattling, warmongering, spurious accusations, manipulated to fail P5+1 talks, and inflammatory headlines up the stakes for war.

Pretexts are easy to invent. False flags precipitate them. Zionist power in America buys political support. It owns Congress. It gets most everything it wants.

Media scoundrels march in lockstep. Truth is systematically buried. Unflinching Israeli backing substitutes. Fifty-two major US Zionist organizations exert enormous influence. Political Washington bows to their will.

Obama with Israel Against the World

America is a dictatorship, says Petras. Constitutional law is null and void. It's "presidential toilet paper!" 

"Legal hacks and whores scratch their backsides and regurgitate the previous illegal executive orders in order to 'legitimize' new arbitrary powers to declare war" and destroy fundamental freedoms.

Abuse of power demands impeachment. It's a national imperative. America's Declaration of Independence states:

"(W)hen a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, (it's the right of the people, it's) their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

Straightaway as president, Obama violated his sacred trust. He betrayed his constituents. He trashed rule of law principles.

He's guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors. He spurns fundamental civil and human rights. He mocks democratic values. 

He threatens humanity. He's heading America for WW III. Removing him is top priority. The alternative is potentially grim.

Fifteen Minutes An American President

Obama's 2009 inaugural address promised "a new approach with a new emphasis on respect and a new willingness to talk."

Ravaging one country after another followed. So did overthrowing democratically elected leaders. Numerous other high crimes define his tenure.

He's a wolf in wolf's clothing. Neocons infest his administration. Peace is a four-letter word. Rule of law principles don't matter.

Diktat power runs things. Humanity is more than ever threatened. It may not survive on his watch. America is the real evil empire. No nation ever matched its ruthlessness. Perhaps none ever will.

Israel's Willing Executioners: AIPAC Invades Washington

"When a country, like the United States, is in decline, it is not because of external competition: declining competitiveness is only a symptom," says Petras. 

"It is because of internal rot. Decline results when a nation is betrayed by craven leaders, who crawl and humiliate themselves before a minority of thuggish mediocrities pledged to a foreign state without scruples or moral integrity."

AIPAC is the most prominent face of US Zionist power. It fronts for Israel. It's an unregistered foreign agent. It calls itself "America's Pro-Israel Lobby."

Virtually no one in Congress confronts it. Doing so is a career-ender. 

It has virtual veto power over war and peace, trade and investment, multi-billion dollar arms sales, enormous handouts to Israel, and all Middle East policies affecting the Jewish state under Democrat and Republican administrations alike.

It's a weapon of mass destruction. It supports Israel's worst crimes. Its annual meetings are "the most outrageous public display of Zionist-Jewish power as it shapes US foreign policy," says Petras. 

"The sole purpose of AIPAC is to ensure Israel's unchallenged military and political power over a huge region from North Africa to the Persian Gulf."

Presidents, top administration officials, and congressional leaders pay homage to its power. 

They march to the same drummer. They collaborate in high crimes. They support what demands condemnation. 

They disgrace themselves in the process. They betray their constituents at the same time.

Fifty-two Major American Zionist Organizations control them. They serve a foreign government. 

They do so against the interests of ordinary Americans. They do it "without scruples or moral integrity," says Petras.

The Great Transformation of Jewish American Charities

Charity no longer defines them. Over time, they shifted disgracefully. They did so, Petras said, from: 

  • "social aid for working Jews, poor immigrants and elderly Holocaust victims to political influence peddling at the service of the highly militarized state of Israel; 

  • from engaging in social welfare for American Jews to political lobbying for military transfers to Israel; 

  • from grassroots leaders sharing life styles and struggles with their rank and file donors to millionaire CEOs entertaining Zionist billionaires and banging tables for Israel at the White House while paying off the Congressional influential; and 

  • from reaching out and aligning with Americans working for peace with justice in the Middle East to embracing every tin horn monarch and dictator who signs off on Israeli annexation of Palestinian land."

In the process, they lost their popular mass base. Members resigned in protest. Others were forced out. 

They're no longer Jewish community representatives. They front for lawless Israeli power. They do so without ethics or integrity.

Imperial and Zionist Wars and Terror in the Middle East: Palestine, Iran, Syria and Yemen

Israeli Terror: The "Final Solution" to the Palestine Question (page 130/31)

Longstanding ethnic cleansing reflects official Israeli policy. Palestinians are systematically dispossessed. 

For decades, Israel "confiscat(ed) their lands, destroy(ed) (their) homes, bulldoz(ed) (their) orchards and (established) 'Jews-only' colonial settlements serviced by highways, electrical systems and water works for the exclusive use of the settlers and occupying soldiers," said Petras.

Israel is the only nation without declared borders. Its Greater Israel objective explains why. It wants them expanded.

In 1982, Oded Yinon prepared "The Zionist Plan for the Middle East." The Association of Arab-American University Graduates called it "the most explicit, detailed and unambiguous statement to date of the Zionist strategy in the Middle East."

"Its importance...lies not in its historical value but in the nightmare which it represents."

It states for Israel to survive, it must dominate the region. It must become a world power.

Doing so requires balkanizing Arab nations along ethnic and sectarian lines. It involves making them Israeli satellites.

Israel wants all historical Palestinian land, said Petras. It wants non-Jews "expel(led)." It wants Jews alone granted rights. It denies Palestinians entirely.

It commits high crimes too grave to ignore. It does so daily. It literally gets away with murder with impunity. So-called peace talks mock legitimate ones.

Palestinians are largely on their own to survive. Besieged Gazans suffer most of all. Israel keeps them isolated illegally.

Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas is a longtime Israeli collaborator. So are other PA officials. They're Israeli enforcers. 

They betray their own people for generous benefits derived. They're complicit in causing enormous human suffering.

Obama at the General Assembly: Sacrificing Palestine for Zionist Campaign Funds

Petras discussed his September 21, 2011 address. He "overt(ly) pander(ed) to Israel," he said. He's done it at AIPAC conferences.

He supports lawless Israeli policy. He spurns fundamental Palestinian rights. He's indifferent to their vital needs.

"From the angle of satisfying the US Zionist power configuration (ZPC) and securing a massive flow of re-election financing, Obama's (2011) UN speech was a smashing success," Petras explained.

He grovels before Zionist interests. He supports hugely destructive ones. He turns a blind eye to Israel's settlement project. 

He finances its wars of aggression. He vetoes all justifiable anti-Israeli Security Council resolutions

He supports wrong over right. He's a war criminal multiple times over. He disgraces the office he holds.

Israeli Bombers: Al Qaeda's Air Force

Israeli history reflects multiple crimes of war, against humanity and slow-motion genocide.

Generations of leaders deplored peace. They thrive on war. "Its foreign policy depends on perpetual regional wars and political instability," said Petras.

Fifty-two Major American Zionist Organizations endorse its lawlessness. Israel is partnered with Obama's war on Syria. 

It wants another regional rival removed. Iran's turn awaits. In 2014, Israel budgeted nearly $3 billion dollars for war on the Islamic Republic.

Waging it would be madness. It remains to be seen what follows. It doesn't matter what Israel does most often.

"The entire Zionist power configuration in Washington has lined up to support the Jewish state," said Petras. 

"When Israel commits an act of war against its neighbor, no matter how unjust and brutal the act, Zionists from the most religious to the most secular, the 'peacenik' and neo-cons, all form a united chorus in praise of the righteous and moral 'Jewish Bombs' even as they fall on the besieged people of Syria today and Iran tomorrow."

Peace remains elusive. It's nowhere in sight so far nor benefits accrued if it arrives.

The Bloody Road to Damascus: The Triple Alliance's War on a Sovereign State

Syria is Obama's war. Proxy death squad invaders are used. So far they lack an air force. Obama likely plans Libya 2.0.

Plans to initiate it last summer were postponed. They weren't cancelled. Full-scale war on Assad may be one major false flag incident away.

It remains to be seen what Obama plans. He wants another imperial trophy. Plans to oust Assad are firm.

The road to Tehran runs through Damascus. It's "paved with lies," Petras explains. It bears repeating. Iran's turn awaits. Perhaps regional war will follow.

Saudi Arabia: A Retrograde Rentier Dictatorship and Global Terrorism

Saudi Arabian governance mocks legitimacy. It "has all the vices and none of the virtues of an oil rich state like Venezuela," said Petras. 

It's "governed by a family dictatorship which tolerates no opposition and severely punishes human rights advocates and political dissidents."

It "finances the most fanatical, retrograde, misogynist version of Islam, the 'Wahhabi' sect of Sunni Islam."

It's a valued US ally. America supports some of the world's most ruthless despots. It targets independent governments for regime change.

It want subservient pro-Western puppet leadership replacing them. It spurns democracy at home and abroad.

It's waging terror wars on humanity. It's spending trillions of dollars doing so. It lets vital homeland needs go begging. It wants unchallenged global dominance.

Iran-US Interim Agreement: Historic Breakthrough of Historic Sellout?

American agreements aren't worth the paper they're written on. US history reflects it. Native Americans suffered through centuries of heroic lost struggles. From 1492 to today, they experienced promises made and broken.

Winning the West involved betraying them. One US treaty after another was violated. Imperialism works this way. Things haven't changed. Today they're worse than ever.

Earlier US policy makers sought sea to shinning sea dominance. Today they want it globally. They want it unchallenged. They'll stop at nothing to get it.

Obama is America's latest rogue leader. He's a moral coward. He's a serial liar. His word isn't his bond. Petras asked if the so-called "historic (Geneva) breakthrough" was real or a mirage.

Does it end 34 years of Iran bashing? Or is it the latest US betrayal dressed up in diplomatic mumbo jumbo?

The Big Lie about an Iranian nuclear threat persists. It's fake. It's a red herring. US intelligence reports say so. 

It's common knowledge in Washington. It doesn't matter. Congressional Iran bashing continues. So do punitive administration actions. 

Petras said Geneva ostensibly "is directed toward undermining Iran's potential 'capacity' to have a nuclear program: there are no weapons to destroy, no weapons plans exist, no war plans exist and there are no strategic offensive military operations on the Iranian 'drawing board.' "

"We know this because repeated US intelligence reports" say so.

"So the entire current negotiations are over weakening Iran's ongoing peaceful, legal nuclear program..."

They aim to "undermin(e) any future advance in nuclear technology that might protect Iran from an Israeli or US attack..."

Longstanding US/Israeli policy prioritizes destroying Iranian independence. It's replacing it with pro-Western puppet governance. 

It's advancing US/Israeli imperialism. It's eliminating all rival states. It's establishing unchallenged control. It's going all out by whatever means necessary.

Iran sought normalized relations with Washington and other Western countries for decades. It offered major concessions.

Its sincere efforts were spurned. Is this time different? Has Washington turned a page? Obama has all the proving to do. If past is prologue, don't expect it.

The Assassination of Anwar Al-Awlaki by Fiat

Obama ordered death by drone missile. He murdered a US citizen abroad. He did so without justification. 

He committed cold-blooded murder. For sure not for the first time. Or the last. He governs by diktat authority. He ignores fundamental rule of law principles.

Bill of Rights protections are gone. International law doesn't matter. Washington rules alone apply. Hegemons operate that way. 

So do rogue leaders like Obama. It bears repeating. He exceeds the worst of his predecessors.

Oligarchs, Demagogues and Mass Revolts…Against Democracy

US democracy exists in name only. Most other European ones operate the same way. Monied interests alone matter. Ordinary people have no say.

So-called "color-coded 'mass revolts' in Eastern Europe (including former Soviet republics) featured (duplicitous) popular leaders who exhorted the masses in the name of 'independence and democracy…," said Petras.

They were "pro-NATO, pro(Western) (imperial stooges) liked to neoliberal elites."

Modern-day "oligarchs privatized and sold off the most lucrative sectors of the economy, throwing millions out of work." 

"They dismantled the welfare state and handed over their military bases to NATO for the stationing of foreign troops and the placement of missiles aimed at Russia."

They betrayed their own people in the process. Things are worse now than ever.

Washington's history reflects backing governments spurning the needs of their own people. Western monied interests alone matter.

Hard times inflict enormous punishment. Wars compound the worst of conditions. Things continue going from bad to worse. A race to the bottom harms countless millions.

Petras concludes saying "understanding imperial politics requires: 

  • analyzing its changing structure and operational code; 

  • identifying its ideology and technological innovations;

  • analyzing the domestic foundations of empire and the interplay between overseas expansion and internal decay; and 

  • locating idiosyncratic domestic political configurations which influence and direct the particular policies and strategies of empire builders."

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

Reviewing James Petras’ The Politics of Empire: The US, Israel and the Middle East...

Reviewing James Petras' The Politics of Empire: The US, Israel and the Middle East (Part I) 

by Stephen Lendman

It's Petras at his best. It's important reading. It covers vital topics. Petras tells readers what they need to know. His analysis is masterful. Below is an account of what he said.

Washington and Israel are longstanding imperial partners. Petras does some of the best analysis explaining it.

Overview: The State of the Empire

In the 1990s, imperial adventurism increased. Post-9/11, it accelerated. One war after another followed. They continue "unhampered by congressional or large-scale public opposition," said Petras.

At least so far. Popular opinion against Obama's Syria war postponed it. Resuming it could happen any time. Perhaps it's one major false flag attack away.

Other wars may follow. Iran's turn awaits. Ukraine's full-blown crisis and regime change aftermath happened largely beyond the timeline of Petras' book.

He's a valued contributor to a forthcoming Clarity Press (CP) account of Ukraine's crisis. It promises to be the definitive analysis of what happened, why it matters, and what may follow. Watch for CP's announced publishing date.

Zionists and militarists define their current imperial objectives as follows, says Petras:

"(1) destroying regimes and states (as well as their military, police and civil governing bureaucracies) which had opposed Israel’s annexation of Palestine; 

(2) deposing regimes which promoted independent nationalist policies, opposing or threatening the Gulf puppet monarchist regimes; and

(3) supporting anti-imperialist, secular or nationalist-Islamic movements around the world."

Resistance was greater than they thought. Washington's Afghan war is its longest in history. It shows no signs of ending.

Iraq and Libya remain cauldrons of violence. Obama's war on Syria enters its fourth year.

Israel's goal isn't creating "political vacuum(s)." It's devastating its enemies. What follows is someone else's problem.

Tel Aviv loves getting Washington to wage its wars. The one Israel most wants most is destroying Iran. Whether America will oblige remains to be seen.

US economic conditions were different earlier than now. Overreach makes US leaders pause before undertaking what may cause more harm than good.

At the same time, public opinion is tired of wars. Enormous sums spent waging them harm their well-being. 

A late 2013 Pew Research report confirms the gap between "elite and public opinion," says Petras.

"By a vast margin (52% to 38%), the public agree that the US 'should mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own,' " he explained.

In 2002, a scant 30% opposed foreign entanglements. Times changed dramatically.

Over 80% of Americans oppose Washington's Afghan war. Heading toward 14 years is too much.

Large majorities want domestic issues addressed. They want current jobs protected. They want new ones created. They want better ones. They want living wages. They want government serving their interests equitably.

They despise Wall Street. They reject new imperial wars. Whether they'll stop is another matter entirely.

America is addicted to war. It's the national pastime. Policymakers  believe war is peace. Out-of-control imperialism reflects it.

At the same time, public antipathy to Obama's wars weakened his ability to wage new ones. Whether 9/11 2.0 can change things perhaps remains to be seen.

In 2001, public appetite for war was keener than now. "Intervention fatigue," says Petras, makes most Americans crave peace. 

They're tired of endless imperial adventurism. They're suffering under the weight of pursuing it. According to Petras, they began to:

"(1) prioritize their choice of places of engagement; 

(2) diversify their diplomatic, political and economic instruments of coercion; and 

(3) limit large-scale, long-term military intervention to regions where US strategic interests are involved."

Washington isn't going soft by any means. A new page wasn't turned. Making the world safe for war profiteers is still policy.

Fear is stoked. It's used to manufacture consent. It's much tougher than before. It doesn't stop imperial rampagers from trying. Lots more effort is required.

Large-scale ground invasions are avoided. "Proliferation of special forces" substitutes. So do an array of destabilizing policies.

Ukraine is Exhibit A. Around $5 billion was spent replacing democratic governance with ultranationalist fascist extremists.

It's pocket change compared to trillions spent on Afghanistan and Iraq. It's changing Kiev on the cheap. 

It doesn't always work. Wars remain a bottom line option. Libya is the optimal model. Shock and awe supplemented proxy ground forces. 

Plans perhaps intend similar tactics against Syria. Objectives remain the same. Petras identified "at least eleven major or minor conflicts today engaging US empire builders to a greater or lesser extent."

They include "Ukraine, Thailand, Honduras, China-Japan-South Korea, Iran-Gulf States/Israel, Syria, Venezuela, Palestine-Israel, Libya, Afghanistan and Egypt."

Obama is more selective in choosing new targets. He's only got so much money to spend.

Debt reduction curtails open checkbook warmaking. Special forces in over 120 countries do it on the cheap if needed. So do CIA elements operating virtually everywhere. 

China and Russia comprise Washington's bottom line targets. It's hard imagining planned war on either of them. 

Co-opting neighboring states substitutes. So does surrounding them with US military bases. Weakening and isolating them matters most. 

Perhaps regime change by a thousand cuts is policy. Strategy is longterm. Overreach may defeat Washington's agenda.

Perhaps China and Russia intend letting America overspend until bankruptcy. They've got their own problems to resolve at the same time. 

Unity between them with likeminded allies is their best defense. America makes more enemies than friends. It's influence is declining. 

China's star is rising. Russia hopes to ascend at the same time. How it weathers things over Ukraine remains to be seen. Whether America prevails is unclear.

The battle for Ukraine's soul continues. It's longterm. Russia drew a red line. It's defending its vital issues responsibly. Putin isn't rolling over for Washington. Nor should he.

Obama has a tiger by the tail. He's in bed with fascist extremists. They've got a mind of their own. He may have bitten off more than he can chew.

Putin's patience may best him. Public Ukrainian anger may defeat him. It's unclear how things will go. Knowing either way won't happen soon. Nor in other parts of the world. 

Even superpowers can't prevail everywhere, all the time. Eventually they learn. Some do the hard way. 

Obama's wars made America weaker. New ones may be counterproductive. Nothing will be resolved any time soon. Major struggles are longterm.

Modern day Spartas may succumb like earlier ones. Living by the sword usually means perishing the same way. America may spend itself to death. Hegemons risk overreaching and failing.

Obama "relied on a wider variety of interventions than (his) predecessor," said Petras. He subcontracted more to European allies. 

France took the lead in Africa. Washington wants Japan and South Korea bearing a greater Asian burden.

It's "part of the long-term US strategy to encircle and limit China’s economic expansion," said Petras. 

Middle East control and "undermining Iran" is prioritized. "The principal strategic weakness in US empire building policy lies in the absence of domestic support."

Zionist power remains the wild card. It's deeply embedded in Washington. Media support is overwhelming. So are powerful monied interests.

War is their national pastime. Aroused public opinion is the best defense against it. Revving it up now is needed more than ever.

The Obama Regime's Military Metaphysics Rejects Diplomatic Opportunities

Obama prioritizes belligerence over diplomacy. He never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity to pursue peace. 

Replacing independent governments with subservient pro-Western ones is prioritized. Adversaries are ravaged and destroyed. Hegemons operate this way.

Opportunities for peace are spurned. Bullying takes precedence. Obama sacrificed a "Grand Bargain" with Iran to serve Israel.

Israeli "land-grabbing" overrode Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Destabilizing Venezuela is prioritized. Regime change matters more than normalized relations.

"Obama's Snowden caper revive(d) the Cold War," said Petras.
Obama's war on Syria rages. He's allied with perhaps uncontrollable death squad extremists.

Afghanistan is a bottomless pit of war. It could continue for another decade or two. Taliban fighters show no battle fatigue.

Containing China may end up a losing proposition. Lost US opportunities overall may not resurface. At least not in the short run.

"The world view of the Obama regime is one of mirror looking in an echo chamber," said Petras. "(I)t cannot visualize and accommodate the interests of rivals, competitors or adversaries, no matter how absolutely central they are to any meaningful compromise." 

"The give and take of real world politics is totally foreign to the world's Chosen People." They only know how to " 'seize power' and create military facts, even as they then spend a dozen years and billions of dollars and millions of lives in endless wars, bemoaning lost markets amidst serial diplomatic failures." 

"The epitaph for the Obama regime will read:

They fought the Wars.
They lost.
They turned friends
into enemies.
Who became
Friends of our enemies.
They stood alone, in splendid isolation,
And said it was their only choice."

The Decline of the US (and everyone else...) 

Post-9/11, America "suffered a series of military defeats, experienced economic decline, and now faces severe competition and the prospect of further military losses," said Petras.

Some analysts believe US decline began decades earlier. The greater it overreaches, the faster its political and economic advantage wane.

America makes more enemies than friends. It aims to isolate Russia, China and other independent states. It may end up shooting itself in the foot trying.

Latin American countries reject US aggressiveness. They overwhelmingly oppose efforts to oust Venezuela's government.

In late March, Organization of American States (OAS) members  refused to hear fascist legislator Maria Corina Machado discuss ongoing Washington manipulated violence.

She opposes democratic governance. She backed the aborted April 2002 coup against Hugo Chavez.

She's involved in instigating ongoing violence. Venezuelan National Assembly members want her investigated. 

They want her charged with treason and incitement to crime. She's provoking civil war, they said. She's a Washington favorite.

Washington lost Asian influence to China. At the same time, it forged closer military ties with Japan, the Philippines and Australia.

The same holds in other areas. Empires don't fade easily. At the same time, they don't last forever. 

In the end, they all die. America won't be an exception. None existed earlier.

Washington stands "totally alone" against Cuba, says Petras. OAS nations are "no longer a US haven."

At the same time, reports of US imperial decline are "overstated…(T)here is no alternative imperial or modern anti-imperial tendency on the immediate horizon," Petras explains.

Longer-term tells a different story. The 21st century began as America's. It may end as China's.

Cyber-Imperialism: The Logic Behind Mass Spying: Empire and Cyber Imperialism

Edward Snowden revelations about NSA spying connected important dots for millions. He's a gift that keeps on giving.

He explained what everyone needs to know. Doing so "provoked widespread protests and indignation and threatened ties between erstwhile imperial allies," said Petras.

Obama presides over a homeland police state apparatus. "One of (its) essential components (is) an all-pervasive spy apparatus operating independently of any legal or constitutional constraints," he explained.

Big Brother watches everyone. Claims otherwise don't wash. Electronic and telecommunications surveillance is sweeping. 

It's pervasive. It targets everyone of potential interest. It operates globally. It's a power unto itself. It's unaccountable.

As technology advances, it promises worse ahead. No one can escape its spying eye. It monitors world leaders. It cracks encryption protections.

It listens to phone calls. It monitors emails and text messages. It accesses financial and medical records. 

It conducts espionage to get a leg up on foreign competitors. It does so with electronic ease.

Huge stakes are involved. Empires need to do more to hold on to what they have. They want their power enhanced. 

They want total unchallenged control. They want what's not easy to get.

The " 'Global War on Terror" (GWOT), became an open-ended formula for the civilian warlords, militarists and Zionists to expand the scope and duration of overt and covert warfare and espionage," said Petras.

It "provided the ideological framework for a police state based on the totalitarian conception that 'everybody and everything is connected to each other' in a 'global system' threatening the state." 

"This 'totalistic view' informs the logic of the expanded NSA, linking enemies, adversaries, competitors and allies."

A Big Brother world is no fit one to live in. It exists. It seeks omnipotence. It wants total control. Civil liberties and human rights are discarded in the process. They're disappearing in plain sight. 

Police State: The Domestic Foundation of Empire - Fabricating Terror Conspiracies

America's only enemies are ones it creates. Its war on terror is fake. It's waged to stoke fear. 

Supportive propaganda rages. Media scoundrels march in lockstep. They hype what demands denunciation. 

They do it without supportive evidence. None exists. They regurgitate official lies. They repeat them ad nauseam. 

Alleged global and domestic threats are fraudulent on their face. Warnings repeat anyway. Lies substitute for truth. They wore thin long ago.

Most people are fooled anyway. Many pay no attention either way.

"By evoking a phony 'terrorist threat' abroad and its detection by the NSA, Obama hopes to re-legitimize his discredited police state apparatus," says Petras.

At the same time, he "seeks to cover-up (his) most disreputable policies, despicable 'show trials' and harsh imprisonment of government whistle blowers and political, diplomatic and military defeats and failures which have befallen the empire in the present period."

Petras calls Obama "the Master of Deceit." He's polar opposite what supporters want. He wages multiple imperial direct and proxy wars. He plans new ones.

He wrecked the economy. He looted the nation's wealth. He consigned millions to unemployment or underemployment. 

Poverty, homelessness and hunger increased on his watch. He heads America toward full-blown tyranny.

Monied interests own him. He supports wealth, power and privilege. He let popular needs go begging.

He destroyed hard-won labor rights. He wants education commodified. He wants it made another business profit center.

He wages war on whistleblowers, dissenters, Muslims, Latino immigrants, and environmental and animal rights activists called terrorists.

He's a con man. Petras nailed him before taking office. He called him "the perfect incarnation of Melville's Confidence Man. He catches your eye while he picks your pocket. He gives thanks as he packs you off to war."

He spurns human need. He ignores rule of law principles. He deplores democratic values. He tolerates none at home or abroad. He wages war on freedom.

The Rise of the Police State and the Absence of Mass Opposition

Recent US history witnessed "the virtually unchallenged rise of the police state," said Petras. Diktat power rules. No mass pro-democracy movement confronts it. It rages out-of-control.

Bipartisan complicity supports it. So do media scoundrels. It reflects McCarthyism writ large. Anyone can be targeted for any reason or none at all.

Constitutional rights don't matter. Arbitrary rule replaced them. Police state powers reflect it.

It's "the dominant reality in US political life today," says Petras. It's largely unchallenged. Dismissiveness substitutes for mass outrage.

Obama gets away with murder and much more. Media scoundrels hype state-sponsored fear-mongering. Fake threats persist. Dissent is increasingly criminalized. Wars substitute for peace.

Part II continues discussing Petras' new book.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

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Ukraine: The Lies Of Empire And The Smokescreen of Democracy

Countercurrents 28/2/2014, Global Research 1/3/2014 and The 4th Media 3/3/2014

John Herbst, US ambassador to Ukraine from 2003 to 2006, this week gave an interview to the RT television channel about current developments in Ukraine. According to Herbst, what we are witnessing is a peaceful uprising against an authoritarian, oppressive regime. He is unequivocal about this. He said that the protests and protesters are being smeared and discredited, and the only ones wanting to portray the opposition in Ukraine as being ultra nationalist, neo Nazis and violent are those who fear democracy on their own doorstep (i.e. Russia).

Herbst says the protests are a reaction to four years of oppressive government. While admitting that Yanokovych won a free and fair election in 2010, Herbst argues since that time he has put increasingly authoritarian strictures on the opposition and asserts that Yanokovych authorised the use of armed snipers against unarmed protesters.


In response to certain reports that state it was the opposition that first started any firing, Herbst says that such a claim is simply a lie. Herbst quotes Orwell to imply that people and sections of the media are not only lying, but are propagandising by using smear words about the protesters, such as ‘ultra nationalists’ or ‘anti-Semitic’


As far as an attack on a Jewish synagogue in Ukraine is concerned, he merely asks who attacked it and answers his own question with “Nobody knows” and that it is quite likely the attackers were “provocateurs.” Despite ‘nobody knowing’ he immediately implies it was carried out by former government forces to discredit the opposition.


For a man who refers to Orwell, his words flow easily with doublespeak and hypocrisy. While he doesn’t appear to know who attacked the synagogue, not wanting to apportion any wrong doings to the people the US has supported in Kiev, he is conveniently adamant that government snipers gunned down protesters, which is highly debatable, if not totally untrue (1).


Fine for him to make his unfounded claims that suit US goals and smear Yanokovych, but when others make claims he doesn’t like to hear, backed up with evidence, they are merely looking for a reason to tarnish the US-backed protesters.


During the interview with RT, he was asked how would it be perceived if Occupy protesters were to take over government buildings or a city hall in the US, as the people he supports in Ukraine have done: would it be labelled as a peaceful protest?


Of course it wouldn’t. The US state has long been involved in the illegal monitoring and subversion of perfectly legitimate democratic groups on home soil. Its security and intelligence agencies have been used to crush genuine democracy. From Martin Luther King and the Occupy Movement to Veterans for Peace, the US state has used the full panoply of resources to infiltrate, monitor or subvert. Today, democratic movements that seek to legitimately question the influence of Wall Street, US military policy abroad and a range of other policies that have serve elite interests are spied on and ‘neutralised’ (2).


But this is not up for debate. Best to move swiftly along, as indeed Herbst did. In order to prevent further analysis of how the US might or does treat dissent on its own soil, the former ambassador continued with his rhetoric (seemingly in the belief that if you keep on repeating something, people will eventually believe it) and went on to state during the interview:


“But let’s acknowledge something… The policies of Yanukovych were authoritarian and oppressive, and it’s natural that people will respond forcibly against oppressive and authoritarian policies. People were finally fed up with the restrictions as well as the massive corruption. … One side was brutal, slaughtering scores of people. The other was merely seizing buildings… You talk about a new election was scheduled for 2015. We all knew Yanukovic was preparing to steal that election.”

By this reasoning, it would mean that we should have pre-emptive action prior to any election based on fears about who might win and the reason for why they might win. Democracy works the other way around. You have an election and then you protest, if you feel it was discredited in some way, for example like when Bush stole the 2004 election.


And, of course, Herbst would not for one moment contemplate that the US authorities are oppressive, authoritarian and corrupt. For him, such traits are only prevalent in places like Ukraine. Don’t expect the likes of Herbst to be lining up in support of Occupy protestors at home who are demanding similar things that he is supporting in Ukraine (or at least says he is supporting). His moralistic bleatings only apply to other countries.


Although Herbst strived to portray the US as a neutral observer concerning events in Ukraine, it is clearly based on a lie (3,4). It is patently obvious that the US has a definite geo-political agenda aimed at weakening Russia (5). When asked about US Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nulan appearing inKiev handing out cookies, according to Herbst she was just expressing support for peaceful protest, and it did not imply that the US was taking sides in the situation.


How would that look in the US? How would Herbst feel about Russia’s foreign minister doing that in US at Occupy Wall Street?


In response to such questions, Herbst continued to repeat and deflect by saying:


“I think you have trouble understanding there is a repressive government inUkraine. There is not a repressive government in Washington…. Your problem is that you are a newscaster in a country that is undemocratic and you therefore do not want to see democracy in a country on your doorstep”

 
When the interviewer said that she does live in a democratic country (Russia), Herbst retorted:


“You have to say you live in a democratic country. Just like in the Soviet era journalists had to say that. It was not true then and it’s not true now.”

This comment and many others made by Herbst, displayed all of the arrogance associated with the ideology of US ‘exceptionalism’ in terms of that country being qualitatively different from other states, being a beacon of freedom and democracy and having the right to act in any way as and when it deems fit (6). He also displayed the complete contempt that people like him have for the public with his falsehoods, misleading claims, warped logic and attempts to deceive. Herbst should have realised that he was not talking (down) to a Fox news audience in the US. But, given the US’s role in events in Ukraine, maybe this was the best performance that could have been expected by someone in his shoes whose sole aim is to deliberately mislead.


Herbst, Nulan and others would do well to contemplate their country’s post-1945 record of war mongering and destabilisations of democratic governments (7) and which has led to millions of deaths (8), its global surveillance network exposed by Edward Snowdon that illegally spies on individuals and governments alike and its ongoing plundering of resources and countries supported by militarism, ‘free trade’ or the outright manipulation of markets (for example: 9,10,11).


Such ‘champions of democracy’ would also do well to contemplate the debasement of democracy at home and the US’s transformation into what increasingly appears to be a police state (12).


But, of course, they are already well aware of this. And they know full well that what the US is doing in Ukraine represents more of the same: the brutality and lies of Empire attempting to hide behind the smokescreen of democracy.   


Notes





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Empire Building, the Debt Ceiling, the Budget Deficit and the “Samson Solution”

Introduction

            US and world political and economic leaders are faced with what they describe as a ‘systemic catastrophe’:  the inability to pay global creditors, including domestic and foreign banks, investors and governments, who hold $16.7 trillion in US Treasury notes.  There is a related crisis: the government cannot secure passage of a budget to finance its military and civilian agencies and activities, including large-scale payments to military contractors, the financing of business, agriculture and banking operations and social programs.  The raising of the debt-ceiling is central to the functioning of the financial ruling class as it extracts hundreds of billions of tax dollars in interest payments from the US Treasury.  Raising the debt ceiling allows the State to keep borrowing and pay its billionaire creditors.  In turn, as long as the US Treasury has liquidity, it remains a ‘safe haven’ for investors thus providing guaranteed profits.  In addition, as long as the dollar remains the principle currency for global transactions, it allows the US Treasury to print money at will and to borrow at a lower cost – at the expense of its competitors and adversaries.

             Financing the budget deficit requires borrowing, which involves the sale hundreds of billions of dollars worth of US government bonds through Wall Street – but at a cost to the taxpayer.  The common denominator is that the entire edifice of finance capital and all of its support structures depend on debt financing by the State.  By borrowing and then taxing its citizens the Treasury extracts wealth from the vast majority of Americans.

            To understand the fight to raise the debt ceiling and to pass a deficit budget it is necessary to analyze the long-term, large-scale sources of State debt.

Imperial Wars, the Ascendancy of Finance Capital and the Debt Crisis

            The ever-increasing debt and the constant raising of the debt ceiling is a result of long-term, large-scale military spending to build the US Empire.  The imperial enterprise has generated a huge deficit:  the cost/benefit ratio has been overwhelmingly negative.  Contrary to militarist propaganda, the empire has not been ‘self-financing’:  Wars and occupation in Iraq , Afghanistan and elsewhere have cost the US taxpayers trillions of dollars, not off-set by incoming imperial plunder or domestic economic expansion.

            Parallel to the cost of wars and occupations, the rise of finance capital has largely resulted from the pillage of the US Treasury.  Huge bailouts, low interest loans, large-scale interest payments on bonds, subsidies and tax exemptions have created a financial ruling class based on maintaining a debt-laden, interest-paying State, which meets its obligations to the creditors while it privatizes (and eliminates) social programs.  The result is a ‘poor indebted State’ and a rich and prosperous Wall Street.  Wall Street stands to gain trillions with the privatization of the multi-billion dollar health (Medicare) and retirement plans (Social Security): this will form an integral component of the “Grand Bargain” to raise the debt ceiling.

Who are the Beneficiaries of Raising the Debt Ceiling?

            The principle and immediate beneficiaries of increasing the debt ceiling are the wealthy, bond-holders and the medium and long-term beneficiaries are the military-intelligence-empire-builders who can continue to secure over $700 billion in annual budget allocations.  The principle strategic losers from raising the debt ceiling will be the hundreds of millions of beneficiaries of social programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and their family members.  As part of the ‘Grand Bargain’ struck by the Democratic President and Republican Congress – between $1.3 trillion and $1.4 trillion in social cuts will take effect over the next ten years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.  The cuts in Social Security will occur by raising the age of eligibility for full benefits to 70 years, resulting in a loss of $120 billion, as many older retired workers would be expected to die before drawing a single payment while millions of Americans  will be forced to delay retirement and work an extra five years.

Secondly, the earliest age of eligibility for partial benefits will increase from 62 to 64 years – resulting in an additional loss of $144 billion dollars from workers.

Thirdly, the cost of living index would be reduced – a ten- year loss of $112 billion dollars.

Fourthly, the calculation for initial benefits would discard the wage-based method for a so-called “price-index”, resulting in American workers losing another $137 billion dollars over 10 years.  In sum, workers’ social security benefits would be reduced by more than half a trillion dollars – an enormous transfer of wealth to the billionaire creditors, investors and empire builders – all in the name of ‘debt reduction’.

The cuts in MEDICARE and MEDICAID would result in an even more retrograde class polarization.  The ‘Grand Bargain’ could lead to additional losses of over $419 billion dollars.

The biggest cost to the workers will come in the form of an increase in their  monthly premium  for physician services (MEDICARE Part B) from the current 25%  to 35%, resulting in a loss of $241 billion dollars.  The second biggest loss to workers will result from raising the age of eligibility for MEDICARE from 65 to 67 years costing workers an additional S125 billion dollars.  The third loss for workers will be a $53 billion hit  from restricting the use of MEDIGAP insurance – supplementary policies that cover MEDICARE cost sharing requirements.

Further cuts of $187 billion in MEDICAID– the medical plan for the poor and disabled– would result when the federal government shifts its direct funding to block grants to the states that would severely cut services for the poor – a plan first proposed during the Clinton Administration with regard to welfare funding.

Once these reactionary cuts in basic social programs are in place, the beneficiaries, who are able, will be forced to buy alternative supplementary private medical insurance and private retirement plans, while the poor will go without.  The running down of public social services by Wall Street has been a deliberate, cynical strategy to cause popular discontent paving the way for the gradual privatization of services: adding costs, eliminating options and limiting medical treatment, surgery and procedures, especially for the elderly.  The privatization of Social Security, MEDICARE and MEDICAID, will maximize insecurity while minimizing services and lead to untreated and under-treated illness, greater suffering and economic distress.  Bi-partisan Congressional –White House agreements via the “Great Bargain” to raise the debt ceiling will widen and deepen inequalities in the United States .

In sum, “the Grand Bargain” will cause American workers to lose over $1.119 trillion dollars over the next 10 years, leading to a sharp decline in life expectancy, access to health care, living standards and quality of life.

The Samson Solution

            Given the harsh terms, which accompany the “Grand Bargain” to raise the debt ceiling, it would be better if no agreement were reached.  The financial elite is counting on the ‘Grand Bargain’ to leverage their debt collection over the lives and welfare of hundreds of millions of Americans.  It would be better to shake the pillars and pull down this Temple of Mammon (the ‘Samson Solution’) making them pay a price!

            The ‘shock and awe’ induced by default would shake the very foundations of the financial pillage of the US Treasury and the taxpayers; default would seriously undermine the financial basis for imperial wars, spying, torture and death squads.  The entire empire building project would crumble.

            True, in the short-run, the workers and middle class would also suffer from a default.  But the discredit of the ruling political parties, the political elite and Wall Street, could lead to a new political alignment, which would fund social programs by, in David Stockman’s phrase, “soaking the rich” – raising corporate taxes by 50%, imposing a financial transaction tax of 5%, uncapping the social security tax and collecting taxes on overseas US multi-nationals’ profits.  Additional billions would be saved by ending imperial wars, closing bases and canceling military contracts.  Tax reform, imperial dismantlement and increased domestic investment in productive activity would generate domestic growth leading to a budget surplus, extending MEDICARE to all Americans, reducing the age of retirement to 62 and providing a living wage for all workers!

Empire of the Senseless

For the sake of argument, let’s assume the following to be true: Barack Obama is not a stooge, a cipher, an empty suit, or a puppet. He is not incompetent, indecisive, or deranged. He is, in fact, intelligent, purposeful, and rational. Let us further assume that Obama is sincere in his actions, if not always his rhetoric, and that his actions, from the persecution of whistleblowers to the assassination of American citizens, are premeditated, planned, intentional and taken without ambivalence.

What do we make of this? On the surface, it means that Obama is as culpable as he is capable. His icy certitude has always been his most grating affectation. Yet there is no one to hold him accountable for his crimes against the Constitution, high and low, not even the Visigoths of the House.  Despite the daily hysterics fulminating from the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, Obama is the choice of the elites, the man they want at the helm at this fraught moment for global capitalism. It’s his competence that makes him so dangerous.

Obama is the executive manager of what the British punk band the Mekons called the “Empire of the Senseless”. By this, I don’t mean an empire that is inchoate, but a government that doesn’t sense, that doesn’t feel, that is immune to the conditions and desires of the governed. America has degenerated into a sham state, a republic of the observed and monitored, where government operations are opaque and menacing. A pervasive dread seems to envelope the nation.

So, in the face of this reality, we confront, once more, Lenin’s piercing question: what is to be done? This is not a metaphysical exercise any more, but an existential and practical one of the most extreme urgency. How do we respond to an ossified state that serves abstract interests yet remains chillingly indifferent to human suffering? Moreover, where do we turn when the institutions that once served as forces of social change are now largely kaput.

The politics of lesser evilism remains a crippling idée fixe for most of the Left, despite the carnage strewn across the landscape by the politicians they have enabled over the last two decades: from the Clintons to John Kerry and Obama. The Democratic Party itself has become a parody of a political enterprise, a corporate-financed ghost ship for the gullible, the deluded and the parasitical. For all practical purposes the party has been superceded as a functional entity by pseudo-interest groups like MoveOn and their new house organ, MSNBC, which provide daily distractions from and rationalizations for each new Obama transgression.

To a great measure, the responsibility for the fatal ease with which Obama has been able to implement his draconian policies, from domestic spying to drone strikes, must be borne by the timid response of the political left, who have serially denied what they knew to be Obama’s true agenda, an agenda of neoliberal austerity at home and imperial aggression abroad—an agenda that was incubating from the moment the young senator hand-picked Joseph Lieberman to be his ideological mentor in the US Senate.

Predictably, the more they indulge Obama, the more he tends to ignore, if not psychologically resent, their existence. For most of us, the economy is still crashing. A recent analysis by UC Berkeley’s Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics, revealed that 95 percent of the economic gains since the recession began have been captured by the top one percent. This was not an accidental outcome. Obama’s economic plan was geared to generate precisely this result. But no one wants to talk about it on the Left.

Witness the president’s rare conclave with the Congressional Black Caucus. With black poverty and unemployment rates at startling highs, Obama swatted away meek queries about the savage toll his economic policies have inflicted on urban America and pressed the delegation to publicly cheerlead for his scheme to shower Syria with cruise missiles. The CBC members sat mutely, soaking in Obama’s humiliating lecture, while black America remains under a state of economic siege.

This brazen act was soon followed by Obama’s announcement that he had picked Jeffrey Zients to head the National Economic Council. Who is Zients you ask? Well, he was a top executive at Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital, plotting takeovers, mass firings, raids on pensions and de-unionization of factories. He did so well at this grim job that his net worth now tops $100 million. One might view this appointment as an act of casual sadism, rubbing salt in the wounds of progressives. But the Left is so moribund, so deeply immured in a political coma that the insult didn’t even prompt the slightest protest, not even a vestigial yelp for old time’s sake.

Liberals seem to have finally come to terms with their own vacuity.

What about the rest of us? What do we do? Here we must turn to the heroic revelations of Edward Snowden, which denuded the government’s aspirations toward a kind of roving omniscience, probing and recording the most intimate beliefs and intentions of its citizens. After the initial tingles of paranoia fade, we might be able to view this as a perversely liberating condition. What a relief! We no longer have to hide our discontent, our efforts to make sense of the senseless. We are free to become the sovereigns of our own actions without fear of disclosure.

And so we remain, nearly all of us, left and right, clinging stubbornly to the tiny freedoms that remain: to object, to denounce and to resist, until a real oppositional force emerges. Or SEAL Team Six shows up at the back door.

Note: 

On October 7th, CounterPunch published an article by gonzo journalist Ruth Fowler titled Regressive Feminism: Of Sinead, Miley and Amanda. Some of the language in the essay was crude and found to be offensive by many readers. Even CounterPunch staffers recoiled at the use of the word “cunt” and the phrase “should probably be kicked in the vagina.” Ms. O’Connor contacted me to express her genuine outrage at the essay and the fact she felt the language was an incitement to sexual violence. Of course, we find sexual violence of any kind abhorrent. These kinds of phrases are often especially traumatic to those who have experienced sexual abuse. At her request, I have removed the offensive sentences. We apologize to Sinead O’Connor, a musician we have long admired and a known victim of sexual violence and to other victims of sexual violence. We hereby pledge to refrain from publishing any future articles containing such offensive and distressing language.–JSC

Jeffrey St. Clair is the author of Been Brown So Long It Looked Like Green to Me: the Politics of NatureGrand Theft Pentagon and Born Under a Bad Sky. His latest book is Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion. He can be reached at: [email protected]

Empire Under Obama: Barack Obama’s Global Terror Campaign

<img width="150" src="http://www.truth-out.org/images/images_2013_10/2013.10.16.Obama_Drones.Main.jpg" alt='(Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout)' width="308" height="349">(Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout)Under the administration of Barack Obama, America is waging...

Empire Under Obama: Barack Obama’s Global Terror Campaign

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William Blum: The Anti-Empire Report #121

The War on Terrorism ... or whatever.

“U.S. hopes of winning more influence over Syria’s divided rebel movement faded Wednesday after 11 of the biggest armed factions repudiated the Western-backed political opposition coalition and announced the formation of an alliance dedicated to creating an Islamist state. The al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra, designated a terrorist organization by the United States, is the lead signatory of the new group.” 1
Pity the poor American who wants to be a good citizen, wants to understand the world and his country’s role in it, wants to believe in the War on Terrorism, wants to believe that his government seeks to do good … What is he to make of all this?
For about two years, his dear American government has been supporting the same anti-government side as the jihadists in the Syrian civil war; not total, all-out support, but enough military hardware, logistics support, intelligence information, international political, diplomatic and propaganda assistance (including the crucial alleged-chemical-weapons story), to keep the jihadists in the ball game. Washington and its main Mideast allies in the conflict – Turkey, Jordan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia – have not impeded the movement to Syria of jihadists coming to join the rebels, recruited from the ranks of Sunni extremist veterans of the wars in Chechnya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, while Qatar and the Saudis have supplied the rebels with weapons, most likely bought in large measure from the United States, as well as lots of of what they have lots of – money.
This widespread international support has been provided despite the many atrocities carried out by the jihadists – truck and car suicide bombings (with numerous civilian casualties), planting roadside bombs à la Iraq, gruesome massacres of Christians and Kurds, grotesque beheadings and other dissections of victims’ bodies (most charming of all: a Youtube video of a rebel leader cutting out an organ from the chest of a victim and biting into it as it drips with blood). All this barbarity piled on top of a greater absurdity – these Western-backed, anti-government forces are often engaged in battle with other Western-backed, anti-government forces, non-jihadist. It has become increasingly difficult to sell this war to the American public as one of pro-democracy “moderates” locked in a good-guy-versus-bad-guy struggle with an evil dictator, although in actuality the United States has fought on the same side as al Qaeda on repeated occasions before Syria. Here’s a brief survey:
Afghanistan, 1980-early 1990s: In support of the Islamic Moujahedeen (“holy warriors”), the CIA orchestrated a war against the Afghan government and their Soviet allies, pouring in several billions of dollars of arms and extensive military training; hitting up Middle-Eastern countries for donations, notably Saudi Arabia which gave hundreds of millions of dollars in aid each year; pressuring and bribing Pakistan to rent out its country as a military staging area and sanctuary.
It worked. And out of the victorious Moujahedeen came al Qaeda.
Bosnia, 1992-5: In 2001 the Wall Street Journal declared:
It is safe to say that the birth of al-Qaeda as a force on the world stage can be traced directly back to 1992, when the Bosnian Muslim government of Alija Izetbegovic issued a passport in their Vienna embassy to Osama bin Laden. … for the past 10 years, the most senior leaders of al Qaeda have visited the Balkans, including bin Laden himself on three occasions between 1994 and 1996. The Egyptian surgeon turned terrorist leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri has operated terrorist training camps, weapons of mass destruction factories and money-laundering and drug-trading networks throughout Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey and Bosnia. This has gone on for a decade. 2
A few months later, The Guardian reported on “the full story of the secret alliance between the Pentagon and radical Islamist groups from the Middle East designed to assist the Bosnian Muslims – some of the same groups that the Pentagon is now fighting in “the war against terrorism”. 3
In 1994 and 1995 US/NATO forces carried out bombing campaigns over Bosnia aimed at damaging the military capability of the Serbs and enhancing that of the Bosnian Muslims. In the decade-long civil wars in the Balkans, the Serbs, regarded by Washington as the “the last communist government in Europe”, were always the main enemy.
Kosovo, 1998-99: Kosovo, overwhelmingly Muslim, was a province of Serbia, the main republic of the former Yugoslavia. In 1998, Kosovo separatists – The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) – began an armed conflict with Belgrade to split Kosovo from Serbia. The KLA was considered a terrorist organization by the US, the UK and France for years, with numerous reports of the KLA having contact with al-Qaeda, getting arms from them, having its militants trained in al-Qaeda camps in Pakistan, and even having members of al-Qaeda in KLA ranks fighting against the Serbs. 4
However, when US-NATO forces began military action against the Serbs the KLA was taken off the US terrorist list, it “received official US-NATO arms and training support” 5 , and the 1999 US-NATO bombing campaign eventually focused on driving Serbian forces from Kosovo.
In 2008 Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia, an independence so illegitimate and artificial that the majority of the world’s nations still have not recognized it. But the United States was the first to do so, the very next day, thus affirming the unilateral declaration of independence of a part of another country’s territory.
The KLA have been known for their trafficking in women, heroin, and human body parts (sic). The United States has naturally been pushing for Kosovo’s membership in NATO and the European Union.
Nota bene: In 1992 the Bosnian Muslims, Croats, and Serbs reached agreement in Lisbon for a unified state. The continuation of a peaceful multi-ethnic Bosnia seemed assured. But the United States sabotaged the agreement. 6
Libya, 2011: The US and NATO to the rescue again. For more than six months, almost daily missile attacks against the government and forces of Muammar Gaddafi as assorted Middle East jihadists assembled in Libya and battled the government on the ground. The predictable outcome came to be – the jihadists now in control of parts of the country and fighting for the remaining parts. The wartime allies showed their gratitude to Washington by assassinating the US ambassador and three other Americans, presumably CIA, in the city of Benghazi.
Caucasus (Russia), mid-2000s to present: The National Endowment for Democracy and Freedom House have for many years been the leading American “non-government” institutions tasked with destabilizing, if not overthrowing, foreign governments which refuse to be subservient to the desires of US foreign policy. Both NGOs have backed militants in the Russian Caucasus area, one that has seen more than its share of terror stretching back to the Chechnyan actions of the 1990s. 7

Omission is the most powerful form of lie. – Orwell

I am asked occasionally why I am so critical of the mainstream media when I quote from them repeatedly in my writings. The answer is simple. The American media’s gravest shortcoming is much more their errors of omission than their errors of commission. It’s what they leave out that distorts the news more than any factual errors or out-and-out lies. So I can make good use of the facts they report, which a large, rich organization can easier provide than the alternative media.
A case in point is a New York Times article of October 5 on the Greek financial crisis and the Greeks’ claim for World War Two reparations from Germany.
“Germany may be Greece’s stern banker now, say those who are seeking reparations,” writes theTimes, but Germany “should pay off its own debts to Greece. … It is not just aging victims of the Nazi occupation who are demanding a full accounting. Prime Minister Antonis Samarass government has compiled an 80-page report on reparations and a huge, never-repaid loan the nation was forced to make under Nazi occupation from 1941 to 1945. … The call for reparations has elicited an emotional outpouring in Greece, where six years of brutal recession and harsh austerity measures have left many Greeks hostile toward Germany. Rarely does a week go by without another report in the news about, as one newspaper put it in a headline, ‘What Germany Owes Us’.”
“The figure most often discussed is $220 billion, an estimate for infrastructure damage alone put forward by Manolis Glezos, a member of Parliament and a former resistance fighter who is pressing for reparations. That amount equals about half the country’s debt. … Some members of the National Council on Reparations, an advocacy group, are calling for more than $677 billion to cover stolen artifacts, damage to the economy and to the infrastructure, as well as the bank loan and individual claims.”
So there we have the morality play: The evil Germans who occupied Greece and in addition to carrying out a lot of violence and repression shamelessly exploited the Greek people economically.
Would it be appropriate for such a story, or an accompanying or follow-up story, to mention the civil war that broke out in Greece shortly after the close of the world war? On one side were the neo-fascists, many of whom had cooperated with the occupying Germans during the war, some even fighting for the Nazis. Indeed, the British Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin, acknowledged in August 1946 that there were 228 ex-members of the Nazi Security Battalions – whose main task had been to track down Greek resistance fighters and Jews – on active service in the new Greek army. 8
On the other side was the Greek left who had fought the Nazis courageously, even forcing the German army to flee the country in 1944.
So guess which side of the civil war our favorite military took? … That’s right, the United States supported the neo-fascists. After all, an important component of the Greek left was the Communist Party, although it wouldn’t have mattered at all if the Greek left had not included any Communists. Support of the left (not to be confused with liberals of course) anywhere in the world, during and since the Cold War, has been verboten in US foreign policy.
The neo-fascists won the civil war and instituted a highly brutal regime, for which the CIA created a suitably repressive internal security agency, named and modeled after itself, the KYP. For the next 15 years, Greece was looked upon much as a piece of real estate to be developed according to Washington’s political and economic needs. One document should suffice to capture the beauty of Washington’s relationship to Athens – a 1947 letter from US Secretary of State George Marshall to Dwight Griswold, the head of the American Mission to Aid Greece, said:
During the course of your work you and the members of your Mission will from time to time find that certain Greek officials are not, because of incompetence, disagreement with your policies, or for some other reason, extending the type of cooperation which is necessary if the objectives of your Mission are to be achieved. You will find it necessary to effect the removal of these officials. 9
Where is the present-day Greek headline: “What The United States Owes Us”? Where is the New York Times obligation to enlighten its readers?

Another step in the evolution of the Police State
“If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.”
So say many Americans. And many Germans as well.
But one German, Ilija Trojanow, would disagree. He has lent his name to published documents denouncing the National Security Agency (NSA), and was one of several prominent German authors who signed a letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel urging her to take a firm stance against the mass online surveillance conducted by the NSA. Trojanow and the other authors had nothing to hide, which is why the letter was published for the public to read. What happened after that, however, was that Trojanow was refused permission to board a flight from Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, to Miami on Monday, September 30. Without any explanation.
Trojanow, who was on his way to speak at a literary conference in Denver, told the Spiegel magazine online website that the denial of entry might be linked to his criticism of the NSA. Germany’s Foreign Ministry says it has contacted US authorities “to resolve this issue”. 10
In an article published in a German newspaper, Trojanow voiced his frustration with the incident: “It is more than ironic if an author who raises his voice against the dangers of surveillance and the secret state within a state for years, will be denied entry into the ‘land of the brave and the free’.”11
Further irony can be found in the title of a book by Trojanow: “Attack on freedom. Obsession with security, the surveillance state and the dismantling of civil rights.”
Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., who oversees the NSA and other intelligence agencies, said recently that the intelligence community “is only interested in communication related to valid foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes.” 12
It’s difficult in the extreme to see how this criterion would apply in any way to Ilija Trojanow.
The story is a poignant caveat on how fragile is Americans’ freedom to criticize their Security State. If a foreigner can be barred from boarding a flight merely for peaceful, intellectual criticism of America’s Big Brother (nay, Giant Brother), who amongst us does not need to pay careful attention to anything they say or write.
Very few Americans, however, will even be aware of this story. A thorough search of the Lexis-Nexis media database revealed a single mention in an American daily newspaper (The St. Louis Post-Dispatch), out of 1400 daily papers in the US. No mention on any broadcast media. A single one-time mention in a news agency (Associated Press), and one mention in a foreign English-language newspaper (New Zealand Herald).
  1. Washington Post, September 26, 2013 
  2. Wall Street Journal, November 1, 2001 
  3. The Guardian (London), April 22, 2002 
  4. RT TV (Moscow), May 4, 2012 
  5. Wall Street Journal, November 1, 2001 
  6. New York Times, June 17, 1993, buried at the very end of the article on an inside page 
  7. Sibel Edmonds’ Boiling Frogs Post, “Barbarians at the Gate: Terrorism, the US, and the Subversion of Russia”, August 30, 2012 
  8. Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons, October 16, 1946, column 887 (reference is made here to Bevin’s statement of August 10, 1946) 
  9. Foreign Relations of the United States, 1947, Vol. V (U.S. Government Printing Office, 1971), pp. 222-3. See William Blum, Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, chapter 3 for further details of the US role in postwar Greece. 
  10. Associated Press, October 2, 2013 
  11. Huffington Post, “Ilija Trojanow, German Writer, Banned From US For Criticizing NSA”, October 1, 2013 
  12. Washington Post, October 5, 2013 

The Folly of Empire

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View of the WikiLeaks homepage featuring its founder Julian Assange.
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October 9, 2013  |  

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As Chelsea Manning serves a 35-year sentence for the heinous crime of informing Americans about their government, an obscure milestone in her journey passes this autumn—the fifth anniversary of Iceland's financial collapse. In early 2010 —with 251,287 diplomatic cables, records from Guantanamo Bay, and reams of raw intelligence from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—Manning reached out to WikiLeaks, having been spurned by the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Because Julian Assange and Daniel Domscheit-Berg had traveled to Iceland, where they were lauded for publishing a loan portfolio detailing sketchy loans made by the collapsed Icelandic bank Kaupthing, Manning took an interest in the country. She learned about the so-called Icesave dispute between Iceland and Britain and the Netherlands in a WikiLeaks chatroom, and, as she later told a military court, decided to leak a cable describing the conflict, with Icelandic diplomats begging the U.S. to stop “bullying” them.

“Iceland was out of viable options and was coming to the US for assistance. Despite the quiet request for assistance, it did not appear that we were going to do anything,” she said. “I felt that I would be able to right a wrong by having [WikiLeaks] publish this document.”

It was published in February 2010. The deluge came after.

But the so-called Reykjavik 13 cable isn't the only globally noteworthy cable to emerge from WikiLeaks' Icelandic treasure trove. I read through every cable sent from America's northernmost embassy and discovered eight tasty tidbits that you might want to know about.

1. The U.S. organized a trip for foreign journalists to promote war.

According to a March 28, 2007 cable written by Ambassador Carol von Voorst, the U.S. Embassy was fretting that Iceland was losing interest in maintaining its small (but proportional) contributions toward the war efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. She bemoaned the Icelandic government's plans “to withdraw its Icelandic Crisis Response Unit (ICRU) from Chaghcharan, northern Afghanistan in late April, where it has played an essential part in the region's humanitarian missions since 2004,” attributing the move to Icelandic officials being “greatly influenced by public opinion, especially in the run-up to national elections this May."

Von Voorst wrote that the Embassy “believes it is imperative at this time to shore up Iceland's support of NATO's ongoing mission in Afghanistan” and, therefore “is nominating one of the country's most influential broadcasters to participate in the upcoming USNATO opinion-maker tour in Brussels and Washington, D.C. to help explain the importance of NATO's reconstruction and security assistance mission to Afghanistan.” This was a veteran radio journalist working for the state broadcaster by the name of Jon Gudni Kristjansson.

Von Voorst characterized him as the optimal choice for the “US government-sponsored travel.” He was described by the ambassador as someone who “would appreciate the opportunity to participate in the USNATO tour to receive first-hand information about the US and NATO missions in Afghanistan”:

Mr. Kristjansson believes the USNATO trip would deepen his understanding of the complex situation in Afghanistan, and would give him the opportunity to obtain on-the-record comments from US and NATO officials, which he would use in developing stories to send back to Iceland during his trip.

Like most ambitions of an imperial nature, this did not exactly go as planned. In an email, Kristjansson, who confirmed that he went on the trip and said that it was paid for by the U.S. government, stressed that it was “next to useless” from a journalist's point of view. He said U.S. and NATO officials put forth “the message that everything was going fine in Afghanistan, but the 'information' was too one sided.” He, therefore, didn't use the trip to produce any sort of reports on Afghanistan.

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Has Washington’s Arrogance Undone Its Empire? Paul Craig Roberts No one likes a bully, and Washington’s NATO puppets have been bullied for six decades. British prime ministers, German chancellors, and French presidents have to salute and say “yes sir.” They all hate it, but they love Washington’s money; so they prostitute themselves and their countries…

The post Has Washington’s Arrogance Undone Its Empire? — Paul Craig Roberts appeared first on PaulCraigRoberts.org.

Info Wars: Paranoia, Surveillance and an Empire in Decline

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Info Wars: Paranoia, Surveillance and an Empire in Decline

Global Research and Countercurrents 1/7/2013

Back in 1992, the academic Francis Fukuyama mistakenly informed the world that, with the apparent triumph of western capitalism and the downfall of the USSR, we had arrived at the end of history, the end of ideology. Fast forward a couple of decades and in 2011 Hilary Clinton announced the US was at war. She wasn’t talking about the US’s ongoing illegal invasions, occupations and mass slaughters, as if that wasn’t enough, but an ideological war for the hearts and minds of the global community.

While the likes of Voice of America were aggressively assertive during the Cold War, Clinton was lamenting the fact that, since then, US global ideological influence had weakened, especially with the advent of the internet as well as new kids on the block gaining influence, such as Russia Today.


Of course, Hollywood too has been a long-time cheerleader of the ‘great myth’: the propagator of the US as the beacon of freedom, as the flagship of democratic ideals. The great 'American Lie' of the great 'American Dream' whereby the individual can somehow miraculously overcome adversity and make it in life, just as long as s/he keeps his or her nose to the grind. No actual chains required. The suffocating clasp of popular culture will suffice. The ‘self-made man’ syndrome rammed down the collective throat by Hollywood, which magics away into thin air the debilitating effects of class-based structural inequalities (1). As the commentator and comedian once stated: “The American Dream, you have to be asleep to believe it.”(2)


And let’s not forget Uncle Sam the movie star, the liberator of the oppressed, the protector of universal good, the sweeper of its mass terror and atrocities away from the screen and conveniently under the carpet.

Enter some balance. Enter the internet, Press TV, RT and the ‘alternative media’. The media landscape has been transformed. In recent years, the US 
has had to face up to the harsh truth that it cannot dominate the global debate to the extent it once did when it comes to shaping the analysis and reporting of news through its compliant media outlets. 


Trying to keep the lid on things 


Two years on from Clinton voicing her concerns about the US struggle to win the info wars, Edward Snowden has revealed what many of us had already strongly suspected - that people and foreign governments, including allies and the EU (3), are being heavily monitored by the US government. Before Snowden became public enemy number one, the US had set out to curtail WikiLeaks’ voice by shutting down its access to finance, notably by initially applying pressure on PayPal and MasterCard.

The 
US state-corporate machine did almost everything in its power to curtail WikeLeaks’ influence. Most debilitating of all was the shutting down of WikiLeaks’ access to finance, notably via PayPal, MasterCard, the Swiss bank PostFinance, Moneybookers, Bank of America and Visa Inc.

Bank of America was accused as being especially strident in attempting to discredit and shut down WikiLeaks with various dirty tricks, including backing a smear campaign that involved the use of false documents, disinformation, and sabotage (4).


These actions along with demands that Snowden be ‘handed over’ by the countries the US has been caught red handed of spying on, come as little surprise. The US deems fit to break international laws with impunity, yet bleats about about legalities where Snowden is concerned. Such high-mindedness. But this is par for the course. Successive US administrations have shown a strong dislike of proper democracy, legalities or open debate, whether at home or abroad, and have done everything to stifle it or bomb it out of existence (5).

In exposing state-corporate secrets and challenging powerful institutions, Assange made many enemies in high places. US Attorney General Eric Holder has said that Assange put the lives of US citizens at risk by leaking diplomatic cables. Dick Cheney calls Snowden a ‘traitor’. Who are the real ‘traitors’? If anyone has placed US lives at risk or has attacked the rights and freedoms of US citizens, it’s not Assange. People like Holder and Dick ‘Halliburton’ Cheney should look at their own actions and unbridled support for and benefits accrued from the robber baron regime they are part of and which they seek to legtimise and protect (6)(7). 
  


The hegemony of an empire in decline


Central to this whole debate is the struggle to maintain hegemony, which involves the dominant class attempting to legitimize its position in the eyes of the ruled over – a kind of ‘consented coercion’ that disguises the iron fist of power. If state violence and outright oppression is to be avoided, people's consent must be achieved via ‘ideological state-corporate apparatuses’, including the mass media. Former CIA boss General Petraeus is on record as saying US strategy is to conduct a war of perceptions continuously through the news media. According to the recently deceased journalist Michael Hastings, Petraeus was a master of duplicity and expert in manipulating the media and thus public perception (8). 


We therefore don't have to imagine much that the prevailing view of world conveyed through the mainstream media and swallowed by many people is based on 'a pack of lies' carefully presented by men like Petraeus, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the rest to try to gloss over their corruption and sanctioning of mass killing and plunder. British MP George Galloway’s powerful performance in front of a US Senate committee in 2005 highlighted it as such (9). 


These days, despite state-corporate control and manipulation of the mainstream media, many see through the charade of today's 'liberal democracy’ and the ‘pack of lies’ which underpin it. The more the US lacks control over ‘the message’, the more it has to resort to violence and restrictions on freedoms. The more paranoid it becomes, the more penetrating and widespread the surveillance and 'information gathering' is. It is the type of insecurity that derives from an empire in decline. It is the type of oppression that derives from an empire that is ideologically and militarily fighting for its continued existence (10).


Notes



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Watch: Fall of the Fourth Reich — Empire of Debt (Micro-Doc)

Mac Slavo
March 22nd, 2013
SHTFplan.com

Read by 14,705 people

A new documentary from Future Money Trends highlights the similarities between modern day America and the German Weimar Republic, one of the most infamous examples of out-of-control hyperinflation in history.

The chickens were coming home to roost. Life was hard for many people.

The national debt had risen to a point that it could not be realistically paid back.

The war had cost more than expected.

There was high unemployment.

Products and services increased in price.

Production had decreased significantly.

The government acted, providing liquidity to banks and inflating the currency.

Having left the gold standard, uncertainty loomed and the country’s economy began to spiral out of control.

Sound familiar?

This was Germany, 1920.

Watch the micro documentary: Fall of the Fourth Reich – Empire of Debt

Watch this micro documentary at the Vision Victory Youtube Channel

Visit Future Money Trends

Author: Mac Slavo
Views: Read by 14,705 people
Date: March 22nd, 2013
Website: www.SHTFplan.com

Copyright Information: Copyright SHTFplan and Mac Slavo. This content may be freely reproduced in full or in part in digital form with full attribution to the author and a link to www.shtfplan.com. Please contact us for permission to reproduce this content in other media formats.

Self-Determination for Falklands but Nowhere Else in the Remaining British Empire

turks and caicos

Britain is loudly proclaiming that the inhabitants of the Falkland Islands, the South Atlantic island group that is hotly contested between Britain and Argentina, voted 99.8 percent to remain an overseas territory of the United Kingdom. British Prime Minister David Cameron publicly rebuked the Argentine government and the new Pope, Francis I, for their support of Argentine sovereignty over the Falklands. As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio supported Argentina’s historical claim to the islands.

If only Mr. Cameron were as dedicated to the wishes of the inhabitants of some of Britain’s other far-flung and nearer –to–home territories as he is toward the “Kelpers,” as the Falkland Islanders call themselves.

In the cases of the Turks and Caicos Islands and Anguilla in the Caribbean, the Tory-Liberal Democratic government in London has rolled back the self-government previously afforded the two island colonies.

The British government imposed direct rule on the Turks and Caicos in 2009, citing misrule and corruption by the island’s then-premier, Michael Misick. Britain appointed a Commission of Inquiry led by Sir Robyn Auld that recommended direct rule of the islands from London through Governor Gordon Wetherell; his successor Ric Todd; Attorney General Huw Shepheard; and Chief Financial Officer Hugh McGarel Groves. The Commission of Inquiry was replaced by a Special Investigation and Prosecution Team (SIPT) that began investigating Turks and Caicos government officials for corruption.

The new Premier, Galmo Williams, declared, “Our country is being invaded and re-colonized by the United Kingdom, dismantling a duly elected government and legislature and replacing it with a one-man dictatorship, akin to that of the old Red China, all in the name of good governance.”

The British neo-colonial government brought criminal charges against a dozen Turks and Caicos official, including five ministers in the Misick government, including Misick himself. The former premier fled to Brazil and was arrested pursuant to an extradition request from Britain. However, the breakdown in relations between London and Latin America over the Falklands issue may have compelled the Brazilian government to release Misick on bail awaiting a final determination on the extradition request.

Last November, an election was held in the Turks and Caicos and the Progressive National Party of former Premier Misick barely eked out a victory in an 8 seat to 7 seat vote for the opposition People’s Democratic Party in the House of Assembly. Dr. Rufus Ewing became Premier and among his first acts was to demand London restore constitutional powers from the abrogated constitution to the elected government and sack the governor, Attorney General, and other appointed officials. Cameron and Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary William Hague have resisted these calls. Essentially, when the white population and government of the Falklands demand something from London, they are heard and the request in positively acted upon. However, when it is an Afro-Caribbean population in the Turks and Caicos that makes a demand, they are ignored. It is the British colonial way.

In a letter to Hague, Ewing wrote that the investigation of the previous Misick government was a “farce, impregnated with cloak and dagger acts on the part of the Governor, AG Chambers and SIPT, to incarcerate Turks and Caicos Islanders at all costs, even the cost of the violation of the principles of justice and the human rights of individuals.”

Ewing told a summit of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in Port au Prince, Haiti, “We are today being governed by a constitution that was conceived in Whitehall, and was, for all intents and purposes, thrust upon the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands, at a time when they were without representation.” Ewing was referring to the 2011 Constitution that afforded the island less rights than the previous Constitution of 2006.

One of the main objectives of the London-appointed government was to impose a tax hike and austerity measures on the Turks and Caicos. Hague rejected Ewing’s request and stated: “We expect the territories to meet the same high standards of good governance and public financial management as in the UK.” That is rich coming from a British government that has been mired in financial and sexual scandal since it came to power. But, again, the rationale in London is based on the fact that when white ministers and Tory and Liberal Democratic MPs are engaged in scandal, it is a minor infraction, but when a government composed of people of color are accused of scandal, an unconstitutional, anti-democratic, neo-colonialist sacking of the entire government ensues.

It is clear that the Turks and Caicos wants to join its fellow CARICOM partners as an independent nation but London has thrown in a number of obstacles to full sovereignty. The Turks and Caicos are not alone in having neo-colonialism imposed on them from the halls of power along the banks of the Thames.

Britain, working with France, the Netherlands, the United States, Morocco, New Zealand, Canada, Israel, and Australia, has sought to diminish the role of the United Nations’ Special Committee on Decolonization in speeding independence for the 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories recognized by the committee, which includes the Turks and Caicos and another Caribbean island where Britain has re-stamped its colonial imprimatur, Anguilla.

In the 1960s, Anguilla declared unilateral independence from the Federation of St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla because it wanted to retain its ties to Britain and not shed them in favor of a colonial status within a West Indies mini-federation. However, after some forty years, things have started to change on the island. Britain, instead of allowing Anguilla more self-government under Anguilla Constitutional Order 1 April 1982, amended in 1990, has reversed course and started to retain and retake more powers for itself. This has resulted in more Anguillans bringing up the independence option decades after the Anguillan Revolutions of 1967 and 1969.

Britain is trying to eliminate a provision in the Anguillan Constitution that provides for an option of independence. It is clear that Britain is trying to do to Anguilla what the Netherlands did to the three small Caribbean island territories of Bonaire, Saba, and Saint Eustatius after the dissolution of the self-governing Netherlands Antilles, make Anguilla part of Britain and incorporate it into the United Kingdom and European Union. The Netherlands incorporated its three territories as municipalities of the Netherlands in a move that was not clearly explained to the residents of the islands.

Last year, Anguillan Chief Minister Hubert Hughes told the UN that his government “decided that the Anguilla people will have to decide whether they want to stay in slavery or go on to freedom.”

As with the Turks and Caicos, Britain has imposed economy-crippling austerity on Anguilla using the pretext that the island is rife with financial corruption.

As bad as the Turks and Caicos islanders and Anguillans are in being re-colonized by Britain, no people have suffered more than the Ilois of the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean. In the 1960s, they were removed by Britain against their wishes and relocated to Mauritius where they live in squalor. Britain removed the islanders to make way for a U.S. nuclear weapons, intelligence, and, more recently, a gulag for detainees, on the island of Diego Garcia.

So, while Mr. Cameron lectures the Pope and Argentina on respecting the wishes of the Falkland Islanders, he continues to run roughshod over the wishes of the peoples of the Turks and Caicos, Anguilla, the Chagos Archipelago, and even those closer to home in the Channel Islands and Isle of Man, who would opt for independence if not for the heavy jackboot of British colonial rule…

Obama and the Illusory State of the Empire

obama

Barack Obama would never be so crass as to use a State of the Union (SOTU) address to announce an “axis of evil”.

No. Double O Bama, equipped with his exclusive license to kill (list), is way slicker. As much as he self-confidently pitched a blueprint for a “smart” – not bigger – US government, he kept his foreign policy cards very close to his chest.

Few eyebrows were raised on the promise that “by the end of next year our war in Afghanistan will be over”; it won’t be, of course, because Washington will fight to the finish to keep sizeable counterinsurgency boots on the ground – ostensibly to fight, in Obama’s words, those evil “remnants of al-Qaeda”.

Obama promised to “help” Libya, Yemen and Somalia, not to mention Mali. He promised to “engage” Russia. He promised to seduce Asia with the Trans-Pacific Partnership – essentially a collection of corporate-friendly free-trade agreements. On the Middle East, he promised to “stand” with those who want freedom; that presumably does not include people from Bahrain.

As this was Capitol Hill, he could not help but include the token “preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons”; putting more “pressure” on Syria – whose “regime kills its own people”; and to remain “steadfast” with Israel.

North Korea was mentioned. Always knowing what to expect from the horse’s mouth, the foreign ministry in Pyongyang even issued a preemptive attack, stressing that this week’s nuclear test was just a “first response” to US threats; “second and third measures of greater intensity” would be unleashed if Washington continued to be hostile.

Obama didn’t even bother to answer criticism of his shadow wars, the Drone Empire and the legal justification for unleashing target practice on US citizens; he mentioned, in passing, that all these operations would be conducted in a “transparent” way. Is that all there is? Oh no, there’s way more.

Double O’s game

Since 9/11, Washington’s strategy during the George W Bush years – penned by the neo-cons – read like a modified return to land war. But then, after the Iraq quagmire, came a late strategic adjustment, which could be defined as the Petraeus vs Rumsfeld match. The Petraeus “victory” myth, based on his Mesopotamian surge, in fact provided Obama with an opening for leaving Iraq with the illusion of a relative success (a myth comprehensively bought and sold by US corporate media).

Then came the Lisbon summit in late 2010, which was set up to turn the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) into a clone of the UN Security Council in a purely Western format, capable of deploying autonomous military interventions – preemption included – all over the world. This was nothing less than classic Bush-Obama continuum.

NATO’s Lisbon summit seemed to have enthroned a Neoliberal Paradise vision of the complex relations between war and the economy; between the military and police operations; and between perennial military hardware upgrading and the political design of preemptive global intervention. Everything, once again, under Obama’s supervision.

The war in Afghanistan, for its part, was quite useful to promote NATO as much as NATO was useful to promote the war in Afghanistan – even if NATO did not succeed in becoming the Security Council of the global American Empire, always bent on dominating, or circumventing, the UN.

Whatever mission NATO is involved in, command and control is always Washington’s. Only the Pentagon is able to come up with the logistics for a transcontinental, global military operation. Libya 2011 is another prime example. At the start, the French and the Brits were coordinating with the Americans. But then Stuttgart-based AFRICOM took over the command and control of Libyan skies. Everything NATO did afterwards in Libya, the virtual commander in chief was Barack Obama.

So Obama owns Libya. As much as Obama owns the Benghazi blowback in Libya.

Libya seemed to announce the arrival of NATO as a coalition assembly line on a global scale, capable of organizing wars all across the world by creating the appearance of a political and military consensus, unified by an all-American doctrine of global order pompously titled “NATO’s strategic concept”.

Libya may have been “won” by the NATO-AFRICOM combo. But then came the Syria red line, duly imposed by Russia and China. And in Mali – which is blowback from Libya – NATO is not even part of the picture; the French may believe they will secure all the gold and uranium they need in the Sahel – but it’s AFRICOM who stands to benefit in the long term, boosting its military surge against Chinese interests in Africa.

What is certain is that throughout this convoluted process Obama has been totally embedded in the logic of what sterling French geopolitical analyst Alain Joxe described as “war neoliberalism”, inherited from the Bush years; one may see it as a champagne definition of the Pentagon’s long, or infinite, war.

Double O’s legacy

Obama’s legacy may be in the process of being forged. We might call it Shadow War Forever – coupled with the noxious permanence of Guantanamo. The Pentagon for its part will never abandon its “full spectrum” dream of military hegemony, ideally controlling the future of the world in all those shades of grey zones between Russia and China, the lands of Islam and India, and Africa and Asia.

Were lessons learned? Of course not. Double O Bama may have hardly read Nick Turse’s exceptional book Kill Anything that Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam, where he painstakingly documents how the Pentagon produced “a veritable system of suffering”. Similar analysis of the long war on Iraq might only be published by 2040.

Obama can afford to be self-confident because the Drone Empire is safe. [1] Most Americans seem to absent-mindedly endorse it – as long as “the terrorists” are alien, not US citizens. And in the minor netherworlds of the global war on terror (GWOT), myriad profiteers gleefully dwell.

A former Navy SEAL and a former Green Beret have published a book this week, Benghazi: the Definitive Report, where they actually admit Benghazi was blowback for the shadow war conducted by John Brennan, later rewarded by Obama as the new head of the CIA.

The book claims that Petraeus was done in by an internal CIA coup, with senior officers forcing the FBI to launch an investigation of his affair with foxy biographer Paula Broadwell. The motive: these CIA insiders were furious because Petraeus turned the agency into a paramilitary force. Yet that’s exactly what Brennan will keep on doing: Drone Empire, shadow wars, kill list, it’s all there. Petraeus-Brennan is also classic continuum.

Then there’s Esquire milking for all it’s worth the story of an anonymous former SEAL Team 6 member, the man who shot Geronimo, aka Osama bin Laden. [2] This is familiar territory, the hagiography of a Great American Killer, whose “three shots changed history”, now abandoned by a couldn’t-care-less government machinery but certainly not by those who can get profitable kicks from his saga way beyond the technically proficient torture-enabling flick – and Oscar contender – Zero Dark Thirty.

Meanwhile, this is what’s happening in the real world. China has surpassed the US and is now the biggest trading nation in the world – and counting. [3] This is just the first step towards the establishment of the yuan as a globally traded currency; then will come the yuan as the new global reserve currency, connected to the end of the primacy of the petrodollar… Well, we all know the drill.

So that would lead us to reflect on the real political role of the US in the Obama era. Defeated (by Iraqi nationalism) – and in retreat – in Iraq. Defeated (by Pashtun nationalism) – and in retreat – in Afghanistan. Forever cozy with the medieval House of Saud – “secret” drone bases included (something that was widely known as early as July 2011). [4] “Pivoting” to the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea, and pivoting to a whole bunch of African latitudes; all that to try to “contain” China.

Thus the question Obama would never dare to ask in a SOTU address (much less in a SOTE – State of the Empire – address). Does the US remain a global imperial power? Or are the Pentagon’s – and the shadow CIA’s – armies nothing more than mercenaries of a global neoliberal system the US still entertains the illusion of controlling?

Notes

1. Poll: 45% approve of Obama’s handling of the economy, CBS News, February 12, 2013.
2. The Man Who Killed Osama bin Laden… Is Screwed, Esquire, February 11, 2013.
3. China Eclipses U.S. as Biggest Trading Nation, Bloomberg News, February 10, 2013.
4. Secret drone bases mark latest shift in US attacks on al-Qaeda, The Times, July 26, 2011.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).  He may be reached at [email protected]

Generalissima Clinton Expanding the Empire

hilary

Hillary Clinton has completed her four-year tenure as Secretary of State to the accolades of both Democratic and Republican Congressional champions of the budget-busting “military-industrial complex,” that President Eisenhower warned about in his farewell address. Behind the public relations sheen, the photo-opportunities with groups of poor people in the developing world, an ever more militarized State Department operated under Clinton’s leadership.

A militarized State Department is more than a repudiation of the Department’s basic charter of 1789, for the then-named Department of Foreign Affairs, which envisioned diplomacy as its mission. Secretary Clinton reveled in tough, belligerent talk and action on her many trips to more than a hundred countries. She would warn or threaten “consequences” on a regular basis. She supported soldiers in Afghanistan, the use of secret Special Forces in other places and “force projection” in East Asia to contain China. She aggressively supported or attacked resistance movements in dictatorships, depending on whether a regime played to Washington’s tune.

Because Defense Secretary Robert Gates was openly cool to the drum beats for war on Libya, Clinton took over and choreographed the NATO ouster of the dictator, Muammar al-Gaddafi, long after he had given up his mass destruction weaponry and was working to re-kindle relations with the U.S. government and global energy corporations. Libya is now in a disastrous warlord state-of-chaos. Many fleeing fighters have moved into Mali, making that vast country into another battlefield drawing U.S. involvement. Blowback!

Time and again, Hillary Clinton’s belligerence exceeded that of Obama’s Secretaries of Defense. From her seat on the Senate Armed Services Committee to her tenure at the State Department, Hillary Clinton sought to prove that she could be just as tough as the militaristic civilian men whose circle she entered. Throughout her four years it was Generalissima Clinton, expanding the American Empire at large.

Here is some of what the candid camera of history will show about her record:

1. A Yale Law School graduate, she shared with President Obama, a former Harvard Law Review President, a shocking disregard for the law and separation of powers be it the Constitution, federal statues or international treaties. Her legal advisor, former Yale Law Dean Harold Koh, provided cover for her and Obama’s “drone ranger” (to use Bill Moyer’s words), John Brennan, Obama’s counterterrorism advisor. Brennan gave the president weekly opportunities (White House aides called decision day “Terror Tuesdays”) to become secret prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner. Imagine thousands of push-button deaths and injuries of internal resisters and civilian bystanders in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and elsewhere who presented no threat to the U.S.

The war on Libya, which Clinton spearheaded for Obama, was conducted without a Congressional Declaration of War, without even a War Resolution or a Congressional authorization or appropriation. She and her boss outdid Cheney and Bush on that score.

2. Although touting “diplomacy” as a priority, Clinton made little attempt to bring the United States into the community of nations by signing or ratifying international treaties already having as signatories over a hundred nations. As a former senator with bi-partisan support, Clinton didn’t use much of her capital on climate change agreements.

Human Rights Watch reports that chief among the unratified treaties are “international conventions relating to children, women, persons with disabilities, torture, enforced disappearance, and the use of anti-personal landmines and cluster munitions.” The last two treaties are designed to save thousands of lives and limbs of the children and their parents who are major victims of these concealed, atrocious weapons. Clinton has not gone to bat against the advocates for those “blowback” explosives that the Pentagon still uses.

When the Senate recently failed to ratify the treaty on disabilities, Clinton, with former senator and injured veteran, Robert Dole on her side, still didn’t make the maximum effort of which she is capable.

3. Secretary Clinton had problems heralding accurate whistleblowers. A 24-year-Foreign Service Officer, Peter Van Buren spent a year in Iraq running two State Department Reconstruction Teams. He exposed State Department waste and mismanagement along with the Pentagon’s “reconstruction” efforts using corporate contractors. Unlistened to, Van Buren, true to his civil service oath of office, went public. Clinton fired him. (wemeantwell.com.)

4. Possibly the most revealing of Clinton’s character was ordering U.S. officials to spy on top UN diplomats, including those from our ally, the United Kingdom. Shockingly, she even ordered her emissaries to obtain DNA data, iris scans (known as biometric data) and fingerprints along with credit card and frequent flier numbers.

The disclosure of secret State Department cables proved this to be a clear violation of the 1946 UN convention. Clinton included in this crude boomeranging personal espionage, the Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-Moon and his top officials all around the world. As befits these lawless times, there were no Congressional hearings, no accountabilities, and no resignation by the self-styled civil libertarian Secretary of State, not even a public apology.

5. Clinton led a dangerous expansion of the Department’s mission in Iraq. As reported in the Wall Street Journal on December 10, 2011, “In place of the military, the State Department will assume a new role of unprecedented scale, overseeing a massive diplomatic mission through a network of fortified, self-sufficient installations.”

To call this a diplomatic mission is a stretch. The State Department has hired thousands of private security contractors for armed details and transportation of personnel. Simply guarding the huge U.S. embassy in Iraq and its personnel costs more than $650 million a year – larger than the entire budget of the Occupational Health and Safety Agency (OSHA), which is responsible for reducing the yearly loss of about 58,000 lives in workplace-related traumas and sickness.

Another State Department undertaking is to improve the training and capability of Iraq’s police and armed forces. Countless active and retired Foreign Service officers believe expanded militarization of the State Department both sidelines them, their experience and knowledge, in favor of contractors and military people, and endangers them overseas.

Blurring the distinction between the Pentagon and the State Department in words and deeds seriously compromises Americans engaged in development and diplomatic endeavors. When people in the developing countries see Americans working to advance public health or clean drinking water systems within their countries, they now wonder if these are front activities for spying or undercover penetrations. Violent actions, fueled by this suspicion, are already jeopardizing public health efforts on the border areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Clinton’s successor, former Senator and war veteran, John Kerry, says he wants to emphasize peace, human rights, and anti-poverty endeavors. He doesn’t have to prove his machismo should he strive to de-militarize the State Department and promote peaceful, deliberative missions in the world, from which true security flows.

Empire Of Panic And Ephemera: Applying Rigorous Imagination To America’s Paranoid Style

"Handsomely equipped to fail, I went out into the world.”
― John Fowles, from The Magus
 
In the consumer paradigm, one is induced to exist by Eric Hoffer's dictum: "You can never get enough of what you really don't need." Wherein: The individual exists in a state of perpetual adolescence, emotionally oscillating between life lived as a bliss ninny and evincing chronic dissatisfaction.
 
Ever shifting, inchoate compulsions and endless distractions define the days of the denizens of the consumer state. Text messages and tweets gibber like souls stranded in a limbo realm between the worlds of the living and the damned.
 
Craving and angst are interwoven. Held by the dazzle of light playing over the surface of a deep abyss, the consumer floats along on waxen wings of debt. The landscape does not seem solid.
 
Constant craving and callous disregard ascend to the throne room of consciousness in this empire of ephemera. The passions of the heart are circumvented by chronic discontent. In this manic mythos of the eternal moment, consumer items are collected, clutched, and discarded, like the idols and talismans of a dying cult. But there is neither the time nor inclination to erect statues to these gods of the limbic system; the gods exist as ever-reconfiguring constellations of pixels…As noxious as nixies, they hold the senses enthralled as the global, capitalist paradigm sinks beneath a drowning tide of self-created illusion.  
 
Beneath the endless obligation of debt servitude and the manic distractions of the consumer state, an amorphous dread gathers. Shunted aside, it is experienced as free floating, low grade paranoia.
 
As I place these words to pixel, members of the U.S military sit hunched before computer screens, enacting slaughter by means of predator drone strike. These cubicle-bound soldiers of the consumer state (who have spent their lifetimes within the mass media hologram of late capitalism) regard delivering death from across vast distances as a type of instant, consumerist gratification.
 
But their actions do not instill a sense of safety within the homeland. Incrementally, it increases the gathering dread; thus, this war-by-remote-control is self-perpetuating: warfare experienced as consumer craving, the mode of mind of a shopping addict, but instead of possessing closets bloated with unneeded consumer items, the empire collects corpses.   
 
Izzy Stone famously averred, "Governments lie."
 
It is a given, government and corporate insiders scheme and plot. In the days before they had to create the illusion that government officials were responsive to the dictates of the electorate, rulers, their advisors and counselors created deceptive strategies in pursuit of holding and acquiring greater power, in secret, behind closed doors. Withal, their plots were not termed conspiracies; their machinations and attendant acts were called…a day at work.
 
“Panic is the sudden realization that everything around you is alive.” -- William S. Burroughs, from Ghost of Chance
 
The U.S. possesses a cheap seats view of reality but skybox level self-deceptions.
 
A conspiracy-apprehending mode of mind attempts to find connections and detect affinities. In this respect, it is similar to a poetic sense of awareness. Although, this distinction is imperative: a habitually paranoiac perspective must have a tendency toward introspective self-awareness i.e., an ego-leavening element, or it tends to become pathologically self-centered. Thus: An inner conspiracy is locked into place, confining the psyche of the sufferer in a mental realm of self reference – whereby life itself, in its unknowable vastness, threatens to penetrate, causing the fragile ego-construct of the paranoia prone to erect even greater barriers of insularity, thus creating the effect of a psychical room of infinity mirrors.
 
The U.S. is a paranoid culture. The nation has no foreign enemies posing an existential threat, yet it swoons in collective fear and bristles with the apparatus of the national security state.

The U.S. is a paranoid culture. The nation has no foreign enemies posing an existential threat, yet it swoons in collective fear and bristles with the apparatus of the national security state.The corporate/militarist government of the U.S. is paranoid by nature; therefore, the populace has good reason to be fearful.
 
It is not a lack of conviction that brings so much suffering to humanity; it is a lack of rigorous imagination.
 
Rigorous imagination is not the same thing as a desperate need for belief or a tendency to become convinced of the reality of any notion that arrives in your head.
 
Rigorous imagination allows you to engage in democratic discourse with the disparate beings inhabiting the polis of your psyche, but not be swept away by mob rule or entranced by charismatic, neurotic, or paranoiac characters within you who have a monomaniacal agenda.
 
These inner characters, gods, animals, and monsters can be helpful to you; it is futile to attempt to repress them. But you must have a grip on them -- or they will have a grip on you.
 
Ergo, this is the difference between clinging to narrow convictions and a heart-opening, senses-awakening, mind-vivifying embrace of rigorous imagination.
 
Our convictions, beliefs, and motives have been formed from a mixture of apprehensions (sprung from seeds of bias) and misapprehensions (that contain a tiny measure of truth). Generally, what we term thinking and knowing is, more often than not, an autonomous process -- an unconscious seeking of affinities -- a mating dance of known quantities and recognizable possibilities allowing one to view the world as the unfolding of the plausible -- a trek across recognizable, navigable terrain -- and not a bewildering bog of proliferating novelty, lacking both familiar landmark and the lexicon of a known tongue.
 
As a people, what is our legacy to future generations? Depressing, isn't it? Ecocide. Debt slavery. War without end. A social milieu in which privileged psychopaths not only thrive but decide the fate of the multitudes.
 
Let's take a digressive scan of the known landscape of the late capitalist era where there exists a desperate campaign by the economic elite to have the floundering system be accepted as not only viable -- but the only rational option available to all concerned. Yet a predominance of evidence stands to the contrary. Withal, the present economic system can only maintain the illusion of viability -- growing ever tenuous by the hour -- by lurching from market bubble to market bubble, in combination with governmental infusions of trillions upon trillions of dollars, as well as the complicity of the corporate media and government officialdom in the swindle (swindles past and ongoing) by abandoning their roles as advocates for the many and assuming the position of operatives of a moneyed elite.  
 
Whistleblowers, dissidents -- all of those who harbor a proclivity to apprehend the true nature of the circumstances that the forces of self-serving power have wrought and ruthlessly strive to maintain -- innately carry within and speak a language that is both alien and threatening to the status quo.

Yet, through it all, a mutant seed, nourished by the composting convictions of our culture, dreams within my soul, that contains a blueprint that will allow me to live my way into the unknowable future.Opening oneself to one's condition, even when the criteria is depressing, allows one to open a window to the verities of the heart and gaze upon a kind of beauty that is both awful and awe inspiring. Thus: One is called upon, regardless of the degree of success or the extent of failure, to attempt to align these visions as a corrective to culture.
 
Circumstances do not change unless perceptions change. Accordingly, the big lie promulgated by the elite of our corrupt era is...there is something wrong with an individual who will not or cannot accept their version of events.
 
On a personal basis, I am deficient in those qualities that would allow me to adapt to the conventions of our age.
 
Yet, through it all, a mutant seed, nourished by the composting convictions of our culture, dreams within my soul, that contains a blueprint that will allow me to live my way into the unknowable future.
 
In the final years and the concomitant, violent death throes of the corporate/consumer paradigm, the compulsive pursuit of happiness brings the opposite effect: insatiable craving, chronic dissatisfaction, panic, paranoia, nettling resentment, burnout, and disillusionment. Instead, try this: embrace the inherent sorrow that comes at the end of things: The blank countenance of an indifferent winter sky; the spiraling dance of the ashes of prior convictions in a clashing cross breeze; the manner that trees, buildings, birds rise from the earth like musical notes.
 
You can attempt to check-out i.e., approach life, as people in the U.S. do, as virtuosos of reality avoidance -- but reality knows your home address: the human psyche. Your psyche is with you for life. You cannot drop off your psyche at an Interstate rest stop, and drive away. Glance in the rear view mirror and it will be lounging in the backseat of your vehicle tapping its foot to the music swelling from the car radio.
 
You can no more discard the psyche than rid yourself of its organ of expression -- the human heart -- by storing it in a deep freeze. The images of the psyche pulse through your veins.
 
Neglect of the psyche causes it to become a thief in the night that, by stealth, steals back into consciousness, and is misapprehended as a home invasion…of which, a private arsenal, no matter its degree of firepower, would prove of zero use in warding off.

It is anathema to the human heart for one to imagine oneself as being primarily an economic animal whose fate is yolked to the crackpot pragmatist's bottom line-fetishizing mindset of late capitalist feudalism.
In contrast, by living among…by conversing, collaborating, grappling…being moved, mortified, and transfigured by the images dwelling in the polis and the ecosystem of my heart (also known as the imagination) -- I become myself, by losing myself. The shackles of the first person singular have been lightened, allowing me to wend in the direction of my calling.
 
By means of rigorous imagination, one must seek collaboration with the figures populating the landscape of the psyche. Because: how is it possible to navigate the bewildering terrain of one's fate alone?

Phil Rockstroh

Phil Rockstroh is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. He may be contacted at: [email protected]. Visit Phil's website or at FaceBook.

The Setting Sun and the American Empire

The euphemisms will come fast and furious.  Our soldiers will be greeted as “heroes” who, as in Iraq, left with their “heads held high,” and if in 2014 or 2015 or even 2019, the last of them, as also in Iraq, slip away in the dark of night after lying to their Afghan “allies” about their plans, few here will notice.Sunset in Afghanistan.

This will be the nature of the great Afghan drawdown. The words “retreat,” “loss,” “defeat,”  “disaster,” and their siblings and cousins won’t be allowed on the premises.  But make no mistake, the country that, only years ago, liked to call itself the globe’s “sole superpower” or even “hyperpower,” whose leaders dreamed of a Pax Americana across the Greater Middle East, if not the rest of the globe is… not to put too fine a point on it, packing its bags, throwing in the towel, quietly admitting—in actions, if not in words —to mission unaccomplished, and heading if not exactly home, at least boot by boot off the Eurasian landmass.

Washington has, in a word, had enough. Too much, in fact.  It’s lost its appetite for invasions and occupations of Eurasia, though special operations raids, drone wars, and cyberwars still look deceptively cheap and easy as a means to control... well, whatever.  As a result, the Afghan drawdown of 2013-2014, that implicit acknowledgement of yet another lost war, should set the curtain falling on the American Century as we’ve known it.  It should be recognized as a landmark, the moment in history when the sun truly began to set on a great empire.  Here in the United States, though, one thing is just about guaranteed: not many are going to be paying the slightest attention.

No one even thinks to ask the question: In the mighty battle lost, who exactly beat us?  Where exactly is the triumphant enemy?  Perhaps we should be relieved that the question is not being raised, because it’s a hard one to answer.  Could it really have been the scattered jihadis of al-Qaeda and its wannabes?  Or the various modestly armed Sunni and Shiite minority insurgencies in Iraq, or their Pashtun equivalents in Afghanistan with their suicide bombers and low-tech roadside bombs?  Or was it something more basic, something having to do with a planet no longer amenable to imperial expeditions?  Did the local and global body politic simply and mysteriously spit us out as the distasteful thing we had become?  Or is it even possible, as Pogo once suggested, that in those distant, unwelcoming lands, we met the enemy and he was us?  Did we in some bizarre fashion fight ourselves and lose?  After all, last year, more American servicemen died from suicide than on the battlefield in Afghanistan; and a startling number of Americans were killed in “green on blue” or “insider” attacks by Afghan “allies” rather than by that fragmented movement we still call the Taliban. 

Whoever or whatever was responsible, our Afghan disaster was remarkably foreseeable.  In fact, anyone who, from 2006 on, read Ann Jones’s Afghan reports at TomDispatch wouldn’t have had a doubt about the outcome of the war. Her first piece, after all, was prophetically entitled “Why It’s Not Working in Afghanistan.” (“The answer is a threefold failure: no peace, no democracy, and no reconstruction.”)  From Western private-contractors-cum- looters making a figurative killing off the “reconstruction” of the country to an Afghan army that was largely a figment of the American imagination to up-armored U.S. soldiers on well-guarded bases whose high-tech equipment and comforts of home blinded them to the nature of the enemy, hers has long been a tale of impending failure.  Now, that war seems headed for its predictable end, not for the Afghans who, as Jones indicates in her latest sweeping report from Kabul, may face terrible years ahead, but for the U.S.  After more than 11 years, the war that is often labeled the longest in American history is slowly winding down and that’s no small thing.

So leave the mystery of who beat us to the historians, but mark the moment. It’s historic.

© 2012 TomDispatch.com

Tom Engelhardt

New Report Shows Extent of ‘Kochtopus’ Empire of Climate Denial

Charles and David Koch, a.k.a. the Koch Bros.—who have come to represent the face (or faces) of the US conservative movement and its primary, though certainly not only, source of private funding—have continued, and perhaps deepened, according to new reporting, their involvement with the ongoing masquerade of climate change denial politics on both sides of the Atlantic.

The two men symbolize, for many at least, the best example of the worst kind of people: billionaire titans of industry who use their outrageous wealth to push libertarian policies that thwart the hopes and possibilities of a better and more sustainable world for all.

Between the reams of investigative work (most notably by the folks at Center for Media & Democracy and other progressive media outlets) and their own exploits and public comments, the goals of the Koch's, and their network of allies—monikered as a singular and tyrannical 'Kochtopus'—have been made impeccably clear.

Still, a new report by journalist Steve Connor, at the UK-based Independent, has uncovered new information about the depth and manner of the Koch's secretive and ongoing funding of the international effort to undermine climate science.

As Connor shows, the 'Kochtopus' annually delivers millions to a cabal of front groups, think tanks, and non-profits—both in the US and abroad—whose sole purpose is to shield the public from the reality that the fossil fuel-driven economey of modern society is driving the capacity of Earth's biosphere to its breaking point.

Anonymous private funding of global warming sceptics, who have criticised climate scientists for their lack of transparency, is becoming increasingly common. The Kochs, for instance, have overtaken the corporate funding of climate denialism by oil companies such as ExxonMobil. One such organisation, Americans for Prosperity, which was established by David Koch, claimed that the "Climategate" emails illegally hacked from the University of East Anglia in 2009 proved that global warming was the "biggest hoax the world has ever seen".

Robert Brulle, a sociologist at Drexel University in Philadelphia, has estimated that over the past decade about $500m has been given to organisations devoted to undermining the science of climate change, with much of the money donated anonymously through third parties.

Read the full report here.

______________________________________

New Report Shows Extent of ‘Kochtopus’ Empire of Climate Denial

Charles and David Koch, a.k.a. the Koch Bros.—who have come to represent the face (or faces) of the US conservative movement and its primary, though certainly not only, source of private funding—have continued, and perhaps deepened, according to new reporting, their involvement with the ongoing masquerade of climate change denial politics on both sides of the Atlantic.

The two men symbolize, for many at least, the best example of the worst kind of people: billionaire titans of industry who use their outrageous wealth to push libertarian policies that thwart the hopes and possibilities of a better and more sustainable world for all.

Between the reams of investigative work (most notably by the folks at Center for Media & Democracy and other progressive media outlets) and their own exploits and public comments, the goals of the Koch's, and their network of allies—monikered as a singular and tyrannical 'Kochtopus'—have been made impeccably clear.

Still, a new report by journalist Steve Connor, at the UK-based Independent, has uncovered new information about the depth and manner of the Koch's secretive and ongoing funding of the international effort to undermine climate science.

As Connor shows, the 'Kochtopus' annually delivers millions to a cabal of front groups, think tanks, and non-profits—both in the US and abroad—whose sole purpose is to shield the public from the reality that the fossil fuel-driven economey of modern society is driving the capacity of Earth's biosphere to its breaking point.

Anonymous private funding of global warming sceptics, who have criticised climate scientists for their lack of transparency, is becoming increasingly common. The Kochs, for instance, have overtaken the corporate funding of climate denialism by oil companies such as ExxonMobil. One such organisation, Americans for Prosperity, which was established by David Koch, claimed that the "Climategate" emails illegally hacked from the University of East Anglia in 2009 proved that global warming was the "biggest hoax the world has ever seen".

Robert Brulle, a sociologist at Drexel University in Philadelphia, has estimated that over the past decade about $500m has been given to organisations devoted to undermining the science of climate change, with much of the money donated anonymously through third parties.

Read the full report here.

______________________________________

Woman injured in Empire State Building shooting sues NYPD

New York City Police investigate a shooting in front of the Empire State Building August 24, 2012.(AFP Photo / Stan Honda)

New York City Police investigate a shooting in front of the Empire State Building August 24, 2012.(AFP Photo / Stan Honda)

The NYPD is facing a lawsuit from a woman who was injured in a police shootout outside of the Empire State Building in New York last summer. The 32-year-old was crossing the street when a stray bullet wounded her and eight other bystanders.

“I was just crossing the street,” Chenin Duclos told CBS News. “I wasn’t doing anything wrong and quickly life changed.”

Duclos, who was visiting Manhattan on Aug. 24, 2012, was caught in the middle of gunfire as New York police officers opened fire on 58-year-old Jeffrey T. Johnson, who was suspected of shooting to death his former co-worker just minutes earlier. Ricocheting debris and stray bullets struck nine nearby bystanders ranging from age 20 to 43. All of the victims were hospitalized, but only three spent the night due to their injuries.

Video surveillance of the scene shows tourists running away and hiding behind buildings when the two officers began firing 16 rounds of ammunition.

Although none of the bystanders suffered fatal injuries, the woman from North Carolina is now seeking unspecified compensation for the damage the bullet did to her hip. The 32-year-old must now undergo physical therapy at least once a week.

The lawsuit claims that the officers “failed to follow and to exercise proper police tactics and procedures” and that they “escalated the situation into a dangerous and deadly confrontation.”

Duclos said that she feels sorry for the position that the police officers were put in, but that the NYPD should have at least offered to assist her with her medical bills.

“They didn’t say, ‘if you need any help with your medical bills let us know, we will help you. We will assist you.’ None of that was done,” said Amy Marion, one of Duclos’ attorneys.

CBS News senior correspondent John Miller, a former NYPD deputy commissioner, said he understands the perspective of the police officers, who had only a few seconds to act when Johnson raised his gun at them. But because of the way Duclos’ attorney put together the lawsuit, it’s possible that she will win a settlement.

Trial attorney and legal analyst Rikki Klieman said that because the lawyers pointed out 19 separate acts of negligence on behalf of the officers, they have a good chance at winning the case. But Miller believes a trial should not come this many months after the incident, and that the city should have come up with a settlement before taking the case to court.

“I think (a settlement) should have happened in the first 90 days. When they filed their notice of the claim, the city should have stepped up and done the right thing rather than put these cops in this position,” he said.

7 Brilliant Insights from Noam Chomsky on American Empire

One of the nation's greatest thinkers explains the New World Order.

January 17, 2013  |  

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Noam Chomsky is an expert on many matters -- linguistics, how our economy functions and propaganda, among others. One area where his wisdom especially shines through is in articulating the structure and functioning of the American empire. Chomsky has been speaking and publishing on the topic since the '60s. Below are seven powerful quotes on the evils, atrocities and ironies of the American empire taken from his personal site and from a fan-curated Web site dedicated to collecting Chomsky's observations.

1. [In early 2007] there was a new rash of articles and headlines on the front page about the "Chinese military build-up." The Pentagon claimed that China had increased its offensive military capacity -- with 400 missiles, which could be nuclear armed. Then we had a debate about whether that proves China is trying to conquer the world or the numbers are wrong, or something. Just a little footnote. How many offensive nuclear armed missiles does the United States have? Well, it turns out to be 10,000. China may now have maybe 400, if you believe the hawks. That proves that they are trying to conquer the world.

It turns out, if you read the international press closely, that the reason China is building up its military capacity is not only because of U.S. aggressiveness all over the place, but the fact that the United States has improved its targeting capacities so it can now destroy missile sites in a much more sophisticated fashion wherever they are, even if they are mobile. So who is trying to conquer the world? Well, obviously the Chinese because since we own it, they are trying to conquer it. It's all too easy to continue with this indefinitely. Just pick your topic. It's a good exercise to try. This simple principle, "we own the world," is sufficient to explain a lot of the discussion about foreign affairs. -- from " We Own the World" January 1, 2008.

2. “Could we stop the militarization of space? It certainly looks like we could. The reason is that the U.S. is alone, literally alone, in pressing for it. The entire world is opposed, because they’re scared, mainly. The U.S. is way ahead. If other countries are not willing to even dream of full-spectrum dominance and world control, they’re way too far behind; they will react, undoubtedly. But they’d like to cut it off. And there are several treaties, which are in fact already in place, that are supported literally by the entire world and that the U.S. is trying to overturn. One is the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which bans placing weapons in outer space. Everyone signed it, including the United States. Nobody has tried to put weapons in outer space. It has been observed and would be easily detected if anyone broke it. In 1999, the treaty came up at the UN General Assembly, and the vote was around 163 to 0 with 2 abstentions, the U.S. and Israel, which votes automatically with the U.S.” --  “Militarizing Space ‘to protect U.S. interests and investment,” International Socialist Review  Issue 19, July-August 2001

3. "Globalization is the result of powerful governments, especially that of the United States, pushing trade deals and other accords down the throats of the world’s people to make it easier for corporations and the wealthy to dominate the economies of nations around the world without having obligations to the peoples of those nations." --  Profit over People: Neoliberalism and the Global Order

4. "[The U.S. still names] military helicopter gunships after victims of genocide. Nobody bats an eyelash about that: Blackhawk. Apache. And Comanche. If the Luftwaffe named its military helicopters Jew and Gypsy, I suppose people would notice." --  Propaganda and the Public Mind: Conversations with Noam Chomsky and David Barsamian

UK Queen interested in empire era

The British Queen Elizabeth II seems to have happy memories of the island’s empire era and its conquest.

Last year in September, a committee of the British House of Commons opened an inquiry, under which the word “Empire” would be replaced with “Excellence” in the five major ranks of the royal medals, including Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE), Knight Commander or Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE or DBE), and Knight Grand Cross or Dame Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (GBE).

The designers of the plan, including Republican Labour MP Paul Flynn, said that the word “Empire” is originally an outdated “relic” of the “jingoism of a country at war”.

Although the move was met by strong opposition from some of the Conservatives in the UK Parliament, its effect was so great that the Queen intervened herself and called for any changes in the titles of the honours to be dealt after her reign when her son Prince Charles ascends the throne.

Apparently, the word “Empire” was so dear to the Queen that she preferred to stop such a move even before it gets serious in the Parliament.

The Queen has a direct personal link to the Empire: her father, George VI, was the last Emperor of India, losing the title in 1947 when the country was granted independence.

This is while many citizens of the Commonwealth countries have a mixed look of resentment and aversion at such titles.

Among those who have received the Knight Commander of the British Empire names such as Donald Charles Cameron colonial administrator of Nigeria, William Manning colonial governor of Jamaica and William Peel colonial administrator of Hong Kong could be found.

Benjamin Zephaniah, a British Jamaican poet, publicly rejected an OBE in 2003 because it reminded him of “thousands of years of brutality”. Referring to the honour connection with the idea of the British Empire, he said, “IT reminds me of how my foremothers were raped and my forefathers brutalized.”

Appointments to the Order are made on recommendation of the Minister of Defence, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, and the appropriate Minister of State for Commonwealth countries in respect of the military division, and the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in respect of the civil division.

This could be further evidence of the impact of Britain’s foreign policy and its old colonial structure in granting titles to servants of the Queen.

SSM/HE

Walmart Empire Clashes With China

Typically when we hear “WalMart” and “China” in the same sentence, we picture the “made in” labels on our toys, gadgets, and the other mass-produced stuff that we grab off the shelves at low, low prices. But WalMart’s vast retail empire has a whole other wing in the Middle Kingdom. As the brand has expanded aggressively into the coveted China market, it has engendered a new wave of Chinese shoppers--and legions of workers to serve them. The rise of a Westernized consumer culture has also generated familiar tensions around labor, inequality and workplace rights.

Just in time, too: As demonstrations have mushroomed at WalMart stores and warehouses nationwide, a disgruntled WalMart employee has led a small uprising in the coastal boomtown of Shenzhen. His agitating and organizing work has been bolstered by a partnership with SACOM, a Hong Kong-based labor rights organization that has previously taken on the notorious Apple manufacturer Foxconn.

The conflict began last summer when Wang Shishu, a 52-year-old WalMart store employee and outspoken labor activist, helped lead a campaign against plans to cut pay and slash benefits. When a small strike involving about forty workers broke out, the management cracked down. According to SACOM’s petition:

-- On July 5, 2012, because of dissatisfaction with the pay rise scheme, which would cancel the housing subsidy and the bonus, more than 40 WalMart workers in Shenzhen went on strike at the Shenzhen Distribution Center. Four worker representatives were administratively detained and subsequently dismissed by WalMart.

-- On July 16, Wang participated in a meeting with the local trade unions and the management. He presented a joint petition with 85 signatures from the full-time staff at WalMart's Xiangmihu Store.

-- After that meeting, on July 24, Wang was accused of being in “serious violation of the company’s regulations" and was dismissed. However, WalMart failed to specify which rule Wang has broken. As such, Wang’s dismissal is illegal!

-- At present, Wang is undergoing arbitration for the dismissal. Meanwhile, he keeps marching around the WalMart’s Xianmihu Store with placards like “Protest Against WalMart for Illegal Dismissal,” “Support for Reasonable and Just Demands of Workers” and “Solidarity for Justice.”

In an emailed statement via SACOM, Wang said the key demands they're pushing include a “reasonable pay rise for WalMart workers in China which is proportional to the profit made by WalMart China,” restoration of the housing subsidy, and fairer performance assessments.

Beyond basic material grievances, SACOM and Wang’s supporters are seizing the moment to press for broader reforms. SACOM is preparing a comprehensive report on working conditions in Chinese WalMarts that could shed light on the hardships experienced in an expanding slice of the nation’s new working class. While WalMart doesn’t dominate China’s retail workforce as it does in the U.S., its brand carries different social currency among Chinese consumers, signifying both a modern bourgeois lifestyle and a cutting-edge workplace for Westernized strivers.

Labor activists are pushing back against that image to expose unethical labor practices, just as they have done with sweatshop manufacturers in the past. But the organizing landscape is a fractious one.

As a global company, WalMart’s size and clout give it massive power to exploit local workers (mirroring the pattern in its affiliated factories).

At the same time, employees do, at least in theory, have a union. Though China’s official union system, the All China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), essentially functions as a company union rather than an independent worker-run organization, it has become a platform, and a target, for workers like Wang to push the edges of populist agitation.

Yi Yi Debby Cheng, a labor activist with SACOM, said via email that instead of advocating on behalf of Wang, “the official trade union is not playing its role to help the worker to defend his rights.” Noting that Wang's complaints had been ignored by multiple unions, “from street trade union to district union,” Cheng added, “even on the termination letter, there is the stamp of the corporate trade union to approve Wang’s dismissal. In fact, the chairperson of the trade union is the vice general manager of the store."

Cheng noted that the trade union sealed a contract deal with the company last April, “but the workers generally did not agree with the agreement on the pay-raise mechanism. The workers didn’t think the trade unions represent them since they are not democratically elected.”

So, while US activists have focused on WalMart’s abuse of American low-wage workers, they ought to watch how Chinese workers are struggling to carve out a space for themselves in the Big Box of authoritarian neoliberalism (and getting bigger: WalMart just announced plans for more than 100 new stores with about 18,000 job openings, fueled by a marketing blitzkrieg featuring “corporate social responsibility” charity projects and extensive campus job-recruitment campaigns.

The Walmartization of China draws whimsical comparisons to the cult of Mao: both deftly wield mass politics to impose a solidaristic dogma. Comparing the Walton dynasty with the Chairman's authoritarian grip through an “all-encompassing code of conduct and ideology,” Orville Schell wrote in a 2011 Atlantic piece:

“Each professes a proud populism, always proclaiming a responsibility to better service. China’s leadership, with its socialist roots, has long stressed ‘serving the people,’ while Walmart, with its capitalist roots, emphasizes ‘service to the customer.’ In fact, Walmart stores in China prominently display personnel charts that are inverted pyramids, with the customers and lowest workers situated on the top tier and the managers on the bottom.”

Will WalMartism inform the ossifying Politburo’s struggle to marry tight social control and a neoliberal growth agenda? Schell speculates, “if China wants to keep developing its hybrid form of authoritarian capitalism, its leaders could do worse than to learn from Walmart, a corporate entity larger in scope and logistical complexity than any other in human history.”

WalMart’s appeal to China’s new conspicuous consumers is clear. Its brand exudes modernity, cleanliness, even hipness (despite various marketing mishaps and scandals over the years). But WalMart's tens of thousands of workers are discovering that this embodiment of middle-class aspirations doesn’t necessarily translate into decent career prospects.

One major obstacle for workers like Wang is their own union, which tends to obstruct autonomous grassroots action. Well before his dismissal, he had become known for challenging the “undemocratic practices of the trade union,” along with exploitative working conditions.

Despite those obstacles, the presence of some kind of union could embolden WalMart’s rank-and-file. According to a 2008 report presented by the International Labor Rights Forum and National Labor College, even a flaccid body like the ACFTU, which constrains workers’ leverage by aligning with management, could potentially offer a channel for activism, if an aggressive grassroots leadership emerges among workers.

Wang’s experience might be seen as a warning to American workers who have yet to break the company’s blockade of unionization in low wage U.S. communities. Cheng said, “It is important to be noted that, besides demanding for the right to organize, how the union or workers’ representation mechanism is formed should also be paid attention to.”

To that end, Wang expressed solidarity with WalMart workers in the U.S. “I hope there will be interactions between U.S. WalMart workers and China WalMart workers,” he remarked, “linkage like mail or email exchanges can be made so that we can understand the situation of both sides, find our common issues and effectively fight against our labor violations.”

What would a transnational uprising against WalMart look like? We got a small glimpse of such a movement on December's Global Day of Action, when WalMart-affiliated workers in several countries rallied in support of US anti-WalMart protests. But the idea of a coordinated campaign on parallel Chinese and U.S. fronts could spark a fresh wave of global labor solidarity.

Imagine WalMart associates, warehouse laborers, garment workers realizing the powerful resonance between the working classes at two ends of the global economy.

WalMart has long sought to exploit the polarity between regions with its arbitrage of labor costs through outsourcing to “developing” labor markets. But years of eroding working conditions have erupted in labor frustration in every corner of its empire.

A drop of transnational solidarity could lead to waves of struggle on both sides of the Pacific and shake the axis of WalMart’s dominion.

Hagel and Brennan Nominations: The Empire’s Agenda is Covert Warfare, Targeted Assassinations and “Counterterrorism”

Senate confirmation on both is required. Expect little opposition to Brennan. More on him below.

Republicans will challenge Hagel. At issue is political opportunism more than who serves. Questions about Obama’s nominee are exaggerated. More on that below.

Rarely ever are presidential nominations rejected. Expect nothing different this time. Candidates are carefully vetted. Selection depends on full support for US policies.

Hagel is a reliable imperial supporter. His Senatorial voting record offers proof. The Peace Majority Report rated him highly. The lower the score, the higher the rating. He scored 5%. John McCain got 4%, Joe Lieberman 26%, and Bill Clinton 74%.

The American Conservative Union called him solidly Republican. It gave him a lifetime 84% rating.

In 1996, Hagel suspiciously defeated Nebraska’s popular Democrat governor Ben Nelson.

At stake was a US Senate seat. Polls suggested a close race. Hagel won by 15 points. Few Nebraskans knew about Hagel’s ties.

He was part owner, chairman and CEO of Election Systems & Software (ES&S). It’s an electronic voting machine company.

At the time, it was called American Information Systems. AIS’ parent company founder, Michael McCarthy, was Hagel’s campaign treasurer. His easy victory made winning suspect.

He never disclosed his business ties. A Senate Ethics Committee investigation was requested. It was rejected. Nothing followed. Expect little or nothing said now.

Hagel serves as chairman of the Atlantic Council (ACUS). In 1961, former Secretaries of State Dean Acheson and Christian Herter established it. It was done to support NATO.

It’s headquartered in Washington. It supports Washington’s global agenda. Past and current members include a rogue’s gallery of reliable American imperial supporters.

Among others, they include Henry Kissinger, George Schultz, James Schlesinger, James Baker, Zbigniew Brzezinski, James Jones, Condoleezza Rice, Richard Holbrooke, Susan Rice, and an array of current and former top military officials.

Frederick Kempe is president and CEO. He’s a former Wall Street Journal correspondent, editor and associate publisher. He’s a regular major media commentator.

Damon Wilson is executive vice president. Formerly he served on George W. Bush’s National Security Council. He’s committed to strengthening NATO. Like all past and current ACUS members, he supports America’s imperial project.

The Washington Post listed other Hagel credentials. Past and current ones include:

  • US senator (Nebraska-R.) from 1997 – 2009;
  • chairman of the US Vietnam War Commemoration Advisory Committee;
  • co-chairman of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board and Defense Policy Board member;
  • Private Sector Council president and CEO;
  • Vanguard Cellular Systems co-founder, director and executive vice president;
  • Communications Corporation International LTD chairman;
  • Hagel & Clarke co-founder, director and president;
  • president McCarthy & Co,;
  • Veterans Administration deputy administrator;
  • Firestone Tire & Rubber government affairs director; and

He’s no dove. He’s solidly right-wing. He supported Bush’s war on terror. He backs it now. He voted for every National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). He endorsed NATO’s 1999 Yugoslavia war.

At the time he said: “When you’re in a war, you’re in a war to win.” He called Slobodan Milosevic “a butcher loose in the backyard of NATO.” He viewed Kosovo as a “goal-line stand.”

He said if America doesn’t respond, “we will be tested every day for the next who knows how many years.” He favored sending US forces to Kosovo. He said “never….take any military option off the table.”

He voted for the Patriot and Homeland Security Acts. He endorsed an “urgent need” for missile defense. He called the 1972 US/Soviet Russia Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) “obsolete.”

He said “We can’t hold America’s national security interests hostage to any threats from some other nation.”

After Bush withdrew from ABM in December 2001, he said “What the president did was responsible. I support it. I think it was the right thing to do.”

He accused North Korea of being “on the verge of fielding a ballistic missile capable not only of striking my home state of Nebraska, but anywhere in the United States.”

He supported the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) for “the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States.”

The Afghanistan war followed. It rages. It shows no signs of ending. It’s America’s longest war. It was lost years ago.

Hagel supported the 2003 Iraq war. When it was too late to matter, his tone got more dovish.

He favors lawless warrantless surveillance. He opposes habeas and due process rights for Guantanamo detainees.

On January 7, the Washington Post headlined “On Israel, Iran, and spending, Chuck Hagel looks a lot like Robert Gates,” saying:

His opponents claim he’ll dramatically change defense spending and America’s position on Israel and Iran. Reality suggests otherwise.

“The bottom line is that” Hagel and Gates “are remarkably similar and appear to share a number of policy preferences.” They include drawing down in Iraq and arguing against Libyan intervention.

Both men differ somewhat on Iran. Gates is more hardline. Hagel tried having it both ways. On the one hand, he claimed sanctions are counterproductive. At the same time, he said they’re “working.”

In his first post-nomination interview, he said critics “completely distorted” his record.

“I have said many times that Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism,” he stressed. “I have also questioned some very cavalier attitudes taken about very complicated issues in the Middle East.”

Nonetheless, he favors “direct, unconditional, and comprehensive talks with the Government of Iran.”

He called for direct Hamas/Hezbollah engagement. In 2008, he endorsed direct talks with Syria and North Korea.

There’s “not one shred of evidence” that he’s anti-Israeli, he said. “Israel is in a very, very difficult position. No border that touches Israel is always secure. We need to work to help protect Israel so it doesn’t get isolated.”

He calls “distortions about (his) record….astonishing.” During Senate confirmation hearings, he welcomes “an opportunity to respond” to critics.

At the same time, Politico quoted him saying “I’m not an Israeli senator. I’m a United States senator. I support Israel, but my first interest is I take an oath of office to the Constitution of the United States, not to a president, not to a party, not to Israel. If I go run for the Senate in Israel, I’ll do that.”

Politico added that:

“In 2006, (he) used the term ‘Jewish Lobby,’ ” saying:

“The political reality is….that the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here. I have always argued against some of the dumb things they do because I don’t think it’s in the interest of Israel. I just don’t think it’s smart for Israel.”

Anti-Defamation League (ADL) head Abe Foxman responded, saying:

“What I find more troubling is, he had sufficient time to distance himself from the ‘Jewish lobby’ quote, to explain, and he hasn’t.”

“He let it stand. I find that more troubling than the original statement. He sees it out there. He sees it being seen as this truly conspiratorial view, that the Jewish lobby controls foreign policy, and there’s no comment.”

AIPAC withheld comment. The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) said:

“While we have expressed concerns in the past, we trust that when confirmed, (Hagel) will follow the president’s lead of providing unrivaled support for Israel – on strategic cooperation, missile defense programs, and leading the world against Iran’s nuclear program.”

On January 8, the right-wing Jerusalem Post headlined “Ayalon: Hagel sees Israel as ‘true and natural’ ally,” saying:

Ayalon is Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister. He’s positive on Hagel’s nomination. “I have met him many times,” he said, “and he certainly regards Israel as a true and natural US ally.”

Netanyahu withheld comment. Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin expressed concerns. “Because of his statements in the past, and his stance toward Israel, we are worried,” he said.

He added that Washington’s ties to Israel don’t depend on “one person.”

The New York Times commented on Hagel and Brennan. Obama chose “two trusted advisers,” it said.

Expect Senate hearings for Hagel to be “bruising,” it added. Confirming both will likely follow.

John Brennan is Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. He’s Obama’s chief counterterrorism advisor.

He heads the administration’s Murder, Inc. agenda. He chairs a panel of National Security Council officials. CIA, FBI, Pentagon, State Department, and others are involved.

America’s war on terror is wide-ranging. It includes direct and proxy wars. Special Forces death squads operate in 120 or more countries. CIA agents are virtually everywhere. They’re licensed to kill.

US citizens are fair game. They’re vulnerable at home and abroad. Obama’s kill list picks targets. Brennan advises on who next to assassinate. Victims are a closely held secret.

Anyone can be targeted anywhere in the world. Ordinary people, distinguished ones, or officials are fair game. Their crime is opposing US imperialism.

Drone wars are prioritized. Human lives don’t matter. Rule of law principles are spurned. Summary judgment overrides them.

Obama usurped diktat authority. He appointed himself judge, jury and executioner. He and Brennan meet regularly. Eliminating America’s enemies matter most.

Washington calls innocent victims “terrorists.” Names go on kill lists. It’s called America’s “disposition matrix.” Brennan’s in charge of global assassinations. Prioritizing them made him top CIA director choice.

Expect drone wars to expand. So will targeted assassinations. Summary executions will be prioritized. Rule of law principles, standards, and protocols won’t matter. Counterterrorism takes no prisoners.

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Whom Do You Trust?

The answer will tell your politics. Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org On June 27th, Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept, headlined "Latest Example of Media Recklessness...

For the US and Its Allies, the Road to Tehran Runs Through Damascus and...

When Trump’s UN ambassador, Nikki Haley, asserts  – as she did recently – that the US is sending “not only Assad” but also “Russia and Iran...

Tricked on the 4th of July

I do not celebrate the fourth of July. This goes back to a term paper I wrote in graduate school. It was on colonial...

Tower of Human Skulls in Mexico Casts new Light on Aztecs

A tower of human skulls unearthed beneath the heart of Mexico City has raised new questions about the culture of sacrifice in...

On Which Side are You, Anyway?

by T.P. Wilkinson / July 3rd, 2017 Let’s be honest. The only reason anyone in the West, perhaps with the exception of Germans, is interested...

One Nation…

As a child in government schools, I must have recited the pledge of allegiance thousands of times. And not once did it occur to...

Be Armed, Be Your Own Doctor, and Learn Revisionist History

Doctor Yourself: Natural Healing That Works – Andrew W Saul PH.D.  Remember the Liberty!: Almost Sunk by Treason on the High Seas – Phillip F. Nelson Straight Talk...

The Economic Motive for America’s Current Wars

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org Russia has long been the chief seller of energy — mainly gas and oil — in the world’s largest...

Beyond Inauthentic Opposition

Photo by Marc Nozell | CC BY 2.0 The More Effective Evil I’ve cast presidential ballots for the Green Party from the at least technically contested...

King Zog of Long Island

Deep in the Muttontown Preserve of East Norwich, New York, off a series of winding trails, lies a graffitied staircase to nowhere. It’s one...
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Video: Iran in Crosshairs of New Administration

Although the Trump presidency is going to reside over a weakened empire and may have a hard time reversing the nuclear deal with Iran,...

When Economic Disaster Hits

“I joined the Navy to see the world. I’ve seen it. Now how do I get out?” Readers will most likely be familiar with “Dear...

Signs of America's Demise, and One Way to Survive

It goes far beyond Donald Trump. He's just simple-mindedly exacerbating a trend. Clear signs of deterioration have been building in our nation, some of...

After US-Backed Bombing Sparks Famine in Yemen, WaPo Editor Insists ‘US Not the Problem’

Nor had the Washington Post‘s Jackson Diehl paid attention to it, until he figured out a way to put a pro-US spin on it. Washington...

Eiffel Tower to be Surrounded by a Bulletproof Glass Wall

It will be more efficient but less romantic to visit the Eiffel Tower after this summer. The days when penniless lovers could...

Syria the Latest Case of US ‘Stumbling’ Into War

A recent headline in The Atlantic (6/9/17) earnestly pondered if the US was “Getting Sucked Into More War in Syria.” “Even as Washington potentially...

3 indicted after DEA agents seize record 100 lbs of fentanyl

Published time: 20 Jun, 2017 20:35 A long-term investigation led to one of the nation’s largest...

Jerusalem, Nicosia and WW3

Cypriot press reported last week on a large joint Israeli-Cypriot military drill. The following Israeli video publicises an elite Israeli commando brigade engaged in aggressive military...

The Politics of Terror Mirrors the Politics of Heroin 

“The White House is not just doubling the bet in Iraq…..It’s doubling the bet across the region . This could get very complicated. Everything...

Pulling the Plug

There is a famous phrase in American politics: “the consent of the governed.” It is an important phrase. It is the essence of political...

The Truth About Trump's Golden Boy

White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump gather in the East Room of the White House in Washington, June 5, 2017. (Photo:...

Where Is Israel’s Anti-Establishment Leader?

When I was young, there was a joke: "There is no one like you – and that’s a good thing!" The joke applies now to...

Imperial Decline

Nothing is as permanent as we imagine–especially super-complex, super-costly, super-asymmetric and super-debt-dependent state/financial systems. Identifying the tell-tale signs of Imperial decay and decline is a...

Liars Lying About Nearly Everything

The United States has been using lies to go to war since 1846, when Americans who believed in manifest destiny sought to expand to...

Historic Lawsuit Launched Against Trump, Alleging Constitutional Violations

President Trump boards Marine One at the White House, June 7, 2017. Maryland and Washington, DC, filed a lawsuit against President Trump on Monday,...

An Interesting View of Foreign Politics

Eric Zuesse For many years, I have been reading — but not yet citing as documentation for my own articles regarding U.S. international policies —...

How I know that the Sauds did the 9/11 attacks

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org As a historian, I recognize that everything we know about history is from sources, and depends upon the reliability...

Top 10 Natural Disasters

Natural disasters have changed the course of human history. Although not everyone agrees on their effects, the links between these events and the social...